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

Summer Program in China

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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.

Our Telepresence Buddy, RyBot

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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.

NuVu+ Open House (Virtual)

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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.

ASA-Nuvu spring exhibition

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Thinking creatively, innovating, learning through hands-on design - these are some of the takeaways from All Saints Academy students on their NuVu Innovation Studio experience from the last year. Via our NuVuX partnership with All Saints Academy in Florida, students in grades 9-12 take part in NuVu Innovation Studios every semester where they put their imagination and creativity to the test. Over the last 3 years, students have been designing and building innovative solutions to real-world challenges in their community.

At the end of every semester, we host a large exhibition at the Baldwin Center for Innovation & Collaboration. This Spring, over 120 projects were presented! Watch this short film on the Spring Exhibition finale and hear more from the students about their experiences learning and creating meaningful work.

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 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.


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.

Sunflowers for Experiential Learning

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NuVu Summer student, Thomas Galletti, launched a campaign called “Sunflowers for Experiential Learning” to raise money for teachers and students to attend NuVu’s summer programs and experience hands-on learning, through the sale of beautiful sunflowers. By the end of January, Thomas had raised over $7500! His efforts will bring one Baltimore public school educator to Cambridge for NICE, our NuVu Innovation Camp for Educators, and one student from Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women to attend our 2-week Summer Residential Program. We are so proud of Thomas' steadfast efforts to support experiential learning and build a relationship between the experiential learning advocacy project that he began and the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women.

Student Exchange Soundscapes Studio

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This Spring, our students are collaborating with students at our NuVuX partner school, Kamehameha School, in Maui, HA, on a large-scale, on-site installation project as part of a student exchange studio.

The experience began with a studio called "Soundscapes" lead by NuVu Coaches and outside experts, Matt Mueller and DJ, from The PickUp Music Project. Students created site-specific sound sculptures to activate the lawn outside of the Cambridge Public Library. Students learned about the history of musical instruments, the practice of sound sculpture, the physics of sound, and the importance of participatory music in culture and society.

The second part of the studio is now being led by NuVu Coach Ammar Ahmed and NuVuX Fellow at Kamehameha School, Nakeia Medcalf.  Working under their guidance, our senior students are working with students from Kamehameha School to create site-specific soundscape installations for their campus in Maui. NuVu seniors Maddie Johnson, Tinna Grönfeldt, and Chris Kitchen are collaborating with students in the Capstone Engineering course at Kamehameha School to develop projects rooted in nature and culture that will culminate in an on-site project install with our students traveling to Hawaii this March.

Fashion Designer Erin Robertson at NuVu

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Fashion designer Erin Robertson has joined us this winter as our Coach-in-Residence, leading a studio called "Solarpunk Fashion." Erin is the winner of Project Runway Season 15 and the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America Teen Vogue Scholarship. Her work has been featured in Marie Claire, Nylon, Teen Vogue, Forbes, Elite Daily and more. Students in Solarpunk Fashion are creating conceptual fashion that reaches for inspiration from the internal self out to the solar system. Solarpunk is a plausible near-future sci-fi genre which takes on historical aesthetics and a connection with crafts and handwork, combined with a sustainable future. Students are combining traditional hand crafts with digital fabrication.