How would you brush your hair without using your hands?
This is a question being posed to students in one of the Design Studio courses being offered this year on campus through a partnership between Episcopal's Upper School and NuVu Studio of Cambridge, Massachusetts. As their introduction to NuVu’s methods, these students are asked to think beyond the brush and even consider the room around them in the components of their design. Naturally, they are fearless and simply dive into the project. A few begin browsing the internet to learn more about hair brushes, others begin sketching and brainstorming, while still others immediately begin cutting and measuring cardboard for their prototype. All of this is exactly what NuVu Fellow Dyani Robarge, Upper School Instigator Melissa Estremera, and I want the students to do.
NuVu describes itself as an innovation school. The overall concept was created by MIT graduates Saeed Arida, Saba Ghole, and David Wang, based on the architectural studio model and geared around multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects. In short, students are presented an open-ended question or challenge and asked to identify and create innovative tools or processes to solve it or improve upon it while working in collaborative groups.
This kind of smart, innovative learning is just what Head of School Hugh McIntosh envisioned bringing to the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. Project-based learning is such an integral part of what happens here that NuVu was an easy addition to our campus. NuVu also answers the call for more hands-on learning opportunities for those students who learn best by doing.
NuVu offers a full-time school in Cambridge, Massachusetts for middle and high school students. The NuVu X program, which is what is offered on site at Episcopal, allows other schools to integrate NuVu’s approaches into their own school day. Former Episcopal board member Jennifer Eplett Reilly, Jewel Reuter, Sarah Pulliam and Hugh worked for some time to bring NuVu home to Episcopal. Now that the studio is up and running, our students have access to a laser cutter, 3D printers, a vinyl cutter, a workshop and even a sewing machine and fully stocked electronics cabinet. All of these tools help students make their designs a reality.
NuVu will be a constant partner in the Episcopal Design Studio courses, with Dyani Robarge serving as the school’s full-time, on-site Fellow. Dyani is an architectural designer, having earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Ohio State University and a Master’s of Advanced Architectural Design from Carnegie Mellon University. She previously worked for The Neighborhood Design Center and Triad Architects in Columbus, Ohio. Her areas of interest include building renovations, graphic design, model-making and data visualization. Together with Dyani, we will coach the students throughout the NuVu research, design and production process.
This year, the inaugural group of NuVu Episcopal students will tackle four large projects:
Elizabeth "Betsy" Minton is the Instigator at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. She enriches instruction by generating interdisciplinary curriculum, spearheading hands-on, project-based learning, and supporting faculty in the application of education standards in innovative and creative ways. In addition, she coaches the Middle School robotics team and is the Design Studio coordinator. She has over a decade of elementary classroom experience in general and special education with graduate coursework in literacy, special education, and technology integration. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Bates College and was a 2002 Teach for America Corps member.