Blog

Rob MacDonald Joins NuVu's Leadership Team

Saba Ghole
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We’re thrilled to share that Rob MacDonald is joining the NuVu leadership team. After starting his teaching career at Phillips Academy in Andover, he joined the faculty at Beaver Country Day School, where he spent the past 23 years. Rob helped coordinate the initial NuVu pilot at Beaver, so his involvement with NuVu goes all the way back to 2010. During his time at Beaver, Rob was a creative technologist who led the R+D Team, and he also served as chair of the Math Department, spearheaded a coding initiative and helped to develop a series of multidisciplinary courses. He holds a BA in Mathematics from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College.

Rob's incredibly strong skill and talents in traditional subjects, such as Humanities, Math, and Science, will be a welcome and appreciated addition to NuVu. Rob will work very closely with our students and parents to ensure that their NuVu education is exactly what they need and want among many other responsibilities within NuVu.

NuVu Graduation 2021

Saba Ghole

The last week of the Spring term and 2020-21 year included a number of special festivities to mark the end of a memorable year. The week began with the first ever NuVu Film Festival in which eight student films debuted and two received special recognition, one for Achievement in Documentary Film (Will Fosnot's "Sorry We're Closed") and one for Achievement in Animation (Siena Jemel's "Human-Robot"). The following day we held the Spring Term and Senior Capstone Exhibition, which included an array of thought provoking projects. The event was attended by families and students both onsite at NuVu Innovation School in Cambridge and virtually.

The culminating event was our 2021 Graduation Ceremony. The 2020-21 year marked NuVu's 7th year of graduating students who embark on the next path of their journey with the confidence and skillset to turn challenges into opportunities that foster new ideas and solutions. The ceremony celebrated the uniqueness of each of the graduates and provided a moment of reflection on the unprecedented year that brought new learning experiences in midst of a global pandemic.

Congratulations to NuVu's graduates, and many thanks to the families for allowing us to be a part of the transformational journey of these thoughtful individuals.

Our Telepresence Buddy, RyBot

Saba Ghole

Assistant Coach Maddie talks about the Embodied Interactions studio...

As we all know, this year has been a rollercoaster, and even through the pandemic, people everywhere have been able to find their own silver linings. Embodied Interactions is a studio built on how to imagine, design, and innovate in this new world, and create our own silver linings.

The studio aims to task students with designing robotic interventions that can help construct and mend the unique social dynamics that have arisen due to the pandemic. With a new world of online interaction, students are challenged to add a level of expression and emotion through telepresent machines that can connect people around the world.

In line with this concept, Ryan, a longtime NuVu Coach and robotics and CAD master, decided to respond to his own prompt. As he knew he would be remotely coaching through this studio, he took the opportunity to create his own telepresence bot that he could use in studio. He sketched, designed, printed, and built what we now call “RyBot”.

We rolled RyBot out at the start of our second week of the Embodied Interactions studio. It was a really exciting way to start off the students’ first official week of prototyping their first NuVu projects. I was onsite, and ran off while RyBot rolled in. Safe to say RyBot is a huge hit. Not only does it make it easier for Ryan to be a part of the studio when onsite, but it is a crucial morale boost whenever we pull RyBot out.

During times like this, having some excitement and positive new experiences can bring life to a group. The students not only are able to talk with Ryan through RyBot, but they are able to show him their work and walk through their prototyping process with Ryan in real time.

Over the past two weeks, Rybot has also brought along an unexpected phenomenon. As RyBot couldn’t always move successfully through the small areas of the space, the students began to direct and guide RyBot - even picking him up sometimes and carrying him to the right spot! They ran around RyBot, moving things out of the way, drawing RyBot faces, attaching speech bubbles, and much more. 

And just like that, the students accomplished our studio goal without even knowing it. They adapted, adjusted, and worked together to create a whole new way of engaging and communicating with a coach. And, in the final two weeks of this studio, it is clear that this concept has been fully grasped by the group of students - they have developed unique and useful telepresence bots, bringing friendship, kindness, and excitement to life, while also designing practical and functional projects for this new world. One group’s design includes a wearable cuff that simulates the touch of a loved one’s hand using pressure sensors and servo actuators. Another capitalizes on their own experience to fabricate a device for educators on Zoom to better interpret student feedback and body language. A third group is constructing a wifi-enabled cereal dispenser, allowing friends and family to design and craft custom breakfast surprises from afar.

Not only has this studio adapted to the situation in our current world, but it is discovering and developing bots to improve and support people in these new environments.


Coach Ryan shares more about the making of RyBot:

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, and knowing that I would be teaching this studio remotely, I decided what better way to lead a studio about telepresence, than via a telepresence robot? 

So, I hacked together a phone operated robotic platform that allows me to move around the NuVu space and interact with my students more directly. Intended to be a low-cost alternative to existing telepresence devices, the bot consists of aluminum extrusions, a wifi-connected microcontroller, and some 3D-printed parts. It carries an iPad connected to Zoom, which I use to chat with students and facilitate collaborative sketch sessions during one on one critiques. In addition to extending my physical mobility and capacity to assist the students, the machine also offers a hackable platform for students to test out their own projects and upgrade the bot’s abilities. 

Last week, one student attached a motorized hand to the bot’s central column, allowing me to wave to the studio as I rolled by. In the coming weeks, I hope the bot will take on a life of its own within NuVu’s studio culture, giving students the chance to hack and upgrade their own hybrid-learning experience while physically interacting with classmates they haven’t gotten to see as a consequence of the hybrid model. I’m excited to document our observations and insights from this experience as we consider its application within future tele-education environments.

Revisible Heritage

Saba Ghole
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Post by Nadine Zaza (NuVu Coach leading the Revisible Heritage studio)

The Freedom Trail is a historical marker in US History, yet feels quite removed from the freedoms of Black and brown communities that laid down the foundational bricks that created Beacon Hill all those years ago. Little do most Bostonians know, a different trail exists, and veers directly from the same meeting point as the Freedom Trails. It is the trail of Black Heritage in this city and it tells the stories of unsung heroes and abolitionists and the pains of our most disenfranchised communities. 

The buildings along today's Black Heritage Trail were the homes, businesses, schools, and churches of a thriving black community that organized, from the nation's earliest years, to sustain those who faced local discrimination and national slavery, struggling toward the equality and freedom promised in America's documents of national liberty. The Black Heritage Trail passes by 5 Pre-Civil War Structures and 10 Historic sites, of which include the 1805 African Meeting House, the oldest surviving black church in the United States.

Today, the path these markers exist on have little to no demarcation or are indicative of its important history. In collaboration with SmithGroup Boston, the collaborate architects of The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, students in this studio created interventions inspired by a contemporary black artist at three scales: The urban scale, the building scale, and user scale. The precedent-based project allowed students to curate an experience that honored the truth of the heritage trail as well as the black artists that explore their identity. 

The Revisible Heritage studio prompt was a means to have students engage radical design interventions to “preserve a vital, but long-neglected, part of American heritage; the history and culture of Americans of African ancestry and their role in the history of our nation.” MLK JR

NuVu+ Open House (Virtual)

Saba Ghole

Event: NuVu+ Open House (Virtual)
Date: December 8 2020, 4:30pm EST
Online platform: Zoom

Visit NuVu+ Online!

NuVu+ is a full-time micro high school focused on expanding students’ creative thinking. It is the first of its kind to be built around a collaborative and multidisciplinary studio model. Our school welcomes students ages 13-18. 

This Fall, we are hosting a virtual Open House for current NuVu families and prospective families interested in NuVu+. We are excited to share why we think our school community, curriculum, and programs are unique. The event will include general information on our full-time school, an overview of our studio model, information about our Winter studio themes, and student work.

If you think NuVu+ would be a good fit for your child, we are here to give you more information and begin a discussion. 

Please register through the NuVu+ Virtual Open House response form.

The Making of Fanciful Beasts in Barcelona

Miki Villanueva
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Students at Escola L'Horitzó in Barcelona recently completed their first NuVu studio experience, an animal-inspired version of Cyborg Enhancements.  The studio was led by their teacher, Miki Villanueva, with support from our NuVuX Fellow, Max Vanatta.  In their final presentations, we saw ideas such as gloves that allow you to "Dig Like a Mole" and a "Field of View Amplifier" helmet.  This program is part of our NuVuX Program Offerings where the NuVu Team works with schools and teachers around the world to deliver custom studio-based experiences on-the-ground at collaborating schools.

Summer Program in China

Saba Ghole

This Summer, we are working with TeachFuture to provide Summer Studios to high schoolers in China. Our first session just wrapped up with students from Shenzhen International Foundation College Bao'an Campus in Shenzhen, China. The studio was lead by our NuVuX Fellow, Nakeia Medcalf, and was focused on wearable-technologies.

The students were enthusiastic about learning NuVu's studio process and were immersed in hands-on design for 2 weeks, developing projects related to wearable-technology. We conducted the studio virtually while students were based at their home school in Shenzhen. The Chinese students also connected with NuVu's graduates in the US via a virtual cultural exchange, sharing stories and projects.

We are happy to have the opportunity to work with the school and these students this summer. We look forward to continuing the partnership and expanding our studio offerings this coming Fall.

NuVuX Global Challenges: Quarantine Cookbook

James Addison


NuVuX Global Challenges: Quarantine Cookbook

NuVuX Global Challenges is an ongoing series of challenges for students ages 4 to 18 to share experiences, stories, and ideas, while creating a positive impact in the world through design. Each challenge addresses a theme, giving students the opportunity to address current issues in the world in different ways. This week's challenge is Quarantine Cookbook.

Quarantine Cookbook Challenge

From learning to cook family recipes for the first time to experimenting with new foods, people around the world are rediscovering the joys of cooking while we’re all stuck at home. What have you been eating during the shutdown? Are there new recipes you’ve discovered or cooking techniques you’ve perfected? How has the importance of food and cooking changed for you?

For this challenge, create a time lapse video (90 seconds max) of your dish being created in the kitchen.  You can film yourself cooking, cook with another member of your household, or cook with a friend over video chat-- possibilities are endless!  Parents, cook with your kids! Kids, cook with your family members and friends! Choose your video style and create your timelapse. Submit with the recipe for your dish (written or drawn) and your response to the question: What is this dish and why is it important to you? 

Winners will be featured in NuVu’s digital “Quarantine Cookbook” to be released in Summer 2020!

All proceeds will benefit Off Their Plate, a grassroots organization working to provide nutritious meals to frontline COVID healthcare workers and economic relief to local restaurant workers who have been affected by the crisis.

How Do I Participate?

  1. Choose a recipe
  2. Create a timelapse video (90 seconds max) of your dish being created in the kitchen (points for style and creativity!!)
  3. Submit your timelapse video along with your recipe, and your response to the question: what is this dish and why is it important to you? 
  4. Bonus: Submit your blooper reel

How Do I Submit?

  1. Submit on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter by tagging @nuvustudio and by using #NuVuXGlobalChallenges. In the text of your post, please include your first name, school, age, and the city and country you are posting from.
  2. If you prefer to submit by email, title the email “Quarantine Cookbook” and send your entry to globalchallenges@nuvustudio.org with your first name, school, age, city, and country.

Need inspiration? Explore the presentation at the top of this post to get ideas for your project.


What Happens Next?

After each challenge, we will feature the most creative entries in our newsletter and across our social media platforms. Challenges will be ongoing, and different prizes for the best submissions will be announced and awarded along the way. Towards the end of the 2020-21 school year, a grand prize will be announced for three exceptional participants.

For NuVu’s partners and friends around the world, we ask that each of you share this call for entries with your respective schools and student networks, and to support our shared goal of bringing innovative education and learning to diverse groups of students around the world.

Happy Cooking!

Introducing NuVuX Global Challenges!

James Addison


NuVuX Global Challenges: Graffiti Gratitude

NuVuX Global Challenges is an ongoing series of challenges for students ages 5 to 18 to share experiences, stories, and ideas, while creating a positive impact in the world through design. Each challenge addresses a theme, giving students the opportunity to address current issues in the world in different ways. This week's challenge is Graffiti Gratitude.

Graffiti Gratitude Challenge
We all have people to be thankful for, especially in the current moment. They may not know how much we appreciate them, and now is the time to show it. Express gratitude in an unexpected way by creating a surprising thank you project for a person, a group of people, or an organization that is making a difference in these challenging times. Maybe it’s your local grocery store worker, or your mailman, or a family member. Your project can be for someone you know or for someone you don’t. Find a safe time and place to install it (not violating any social distancing guidelines), and be creative!

How Do I Participate?

  1. Be a current student between 5 and 18 years old.
  2. Pick a person, a group of people, or an organization that is making a difference in these challenging times.
  3. Brainstorm ideas and create your installation. Think about supplies you have around your house and locations where your project will be most impactful.
  4. Photograph your project. Try to capture the person you're thanking reacting to your project!
  5. Submit on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter by tagging @nuvustudio and by using #NuVuXGlobalChallenges. Also tag the person (or people) your project is for, your city, and your school. In the text of your post, please include your first name, school, age, and the city and country you are posting from.
  6. If you prefer to submit by email, title the email “Graffiti Gratitude” and send your photograph(s) to globalchallenges@nuvustudio.org with your first name, school, age, city, and country.


A few things to think about...

  • Get creative with materials and supplies around your house, including recyclables or things you might otherwise throw away.
  • Be considerate of others while creating your installation, and remember to follow the social distancing guidelines in your town or city. 
  • In this challenge, "graffiti" means a public form of artistic expression, not necessarily spray painting. Don't vandalize!

Need inspiration? Explore the presentation at the top of this post to get ideas for your project.


What Happens Next?
After each challenge, we will feature the most creative entries in our newsletter and across our social media platforms. Challenges will be ongoing, and different prizes for the best submissions will be announced and awarded along the way.  Towards the end of the 2020-21 school year, a grand prize will be announced for three exceptional participants.  

For NuVu’s partners and friends around the world, we ask that each of you share this call for entries with your respective schools and student networks, and to support our shared goal of bringing innovative education and learning to diverse groups of students around the world.

Echoes

Saba Ghole

Echoes is a sonified three-dimensional map that uses cymatics to showcase the activity of each NuVu hub around the world. It aims to connect and bring together all the NuVu partner schools through the visualization of sound. The project marked the launch of our first NuVuX Student Exchange between partner schools. Students from NuVu and our partner Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii, collaborated on the project over a 2 month period and ended the joint studio with a physical exchange.

NuVu Seniors, Maddie, Chris and Tinna, began working on Echoes as part of the Soundscapes studio in which students created site-specific sound sculptures to activate the lawn outside of the Cambridge Public Library. The senior chose to continue their project as part of their Senior Exchange Studio. Working in partnership with students from NuVuX partner, Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii, the three seniors spent 3 months developing the concept, designing, building and planning for the installation of a sound-based piece based on KS's campus. The Studio culminated in a week-long trip to Maui in early March lead by Amanda, one of our amazing Coaches. During that trip, Maddie, Chris and Tinna installed the final piece, and presented Echoes in a final exhibition alongside KS students who had created projects as part of the virtual exchange.


About Echoes

Echoes is comprised out of a table-sized dish, speakers, and liquid. Under the liquid-filled dish, the speakers are placed where the NuVu hubs would be on a traditional map. When activated, each speaker plays a distinct audio clip from each NuVu partner school. The frequencies of the audio clips cause the liquid to vibrate in intricate ways, which causes the ripples from the vibrations from each hub to collide and merge into one, showcasing and promoting the connection of the schools.

Cycles of 24-hour recordings taken at the individual NuVu hubs are played through the speakers. Depending on the activity and time of the NuVu location, the sound exiting the speakers will activate the ferrofluid above and stimulate cymatics. When people are active at a NuVu location during the day, the cymatics above the continent are heightened based on the ambient noise level. When it is night-time in that time zone, the ambient noise level is not high enough to activate the cymatics. When two close-by locations are active at the same time, these waves interfere with each other, creating a new pattern, and showing the potential connection between the two spaces. Through this 24-hour cycle, Echoes generates an engaging visual representation of NuVu's activity all over the world.