Weaving Innovation Throughout the School Experience
The Eliot School is a Boston Public Innovation School in the historic North End focused on holistic learning, community partnerships, and progressive curriculum in its pre-K-8th grade classrooms. The school runs NuVuX studios in their classrooms across most grade levels throughout the school year.
Eliot’s partnership with NuVuX was intended to align with the following key priorities:
After a few visioning sessions between the Eliot and NuVuX teams, we arrived at an integration strategy that would allow NuVuX to meld easily into Eliot's existing schedule and curricula while allowing for organic growth of the program in future years.
In 2022-23, classroom teachers in Kindergarten, 1st Grade and 4th Grade along with the Media Arts teacher in Middle School led NuVuX Discovery Studios. The Studio curriculum was integrated into Eliot's "Epic Block" (a rotating block for extra or innovation content), and in some instances integrated into the core classroom.
The following NuVuX Studios were successfully run at Eliot across four grade levels with multiple sections being run of each studio by the same teacher:
In the 2023-2024 year, three additional grade levels were added to the collaboration with NuVuX as well as additional teacher collaborators. Studios from the first year were also repeated in the second year and new studios added for the new grade level collaborators. As teachers lead both repeating and new studios, they gain facility with the design process and confidence in their ability to guide excellent student work.
Year 1 NuVuX Studios Continued:
New NuVuX Studios Implemented:
Due to the scaled integration, in 2023-2024, many students at Eliot are experiencing their second NuVuX studio (i.e. last year’s 1st graders are now in the 2nd grade studio), and as a result are building proficiencies and facility with the design process and fabrication skills.
The Eliot has a strong focus on making the world a better place, both on the level of individual students, through community engagement, and in a more universal scope. To this end, there are studios throughout the school that address real-world problems: 2nd grade’s Erosion Expedition tackles soil and beach erosion, 6th grade’s Deep Sea Bots focuses on protecting ocean life, and 8th grade’s Waste-to-Wonder addresses the plastic waste problem through developing bioplastic packaging alternatives.
In 6th grade, students did extensive research about deep sea creatures and the attributes they use to adapt and survive in their habitat. They then studied mechanisms and learned about prototyping fabrication methods, and ultimately produced animal-inspired models of trash-collecting robots.
In addition to studio support, the dedicated NuVuX Expert visits the Eliot weekly, which facilitates a deep relationship with teachers and affords an ongoing opportunity to be nimble and responsive to school needs.
When the new 3D printers were delivered to the makerspace in the last week of school of the 2022-23 academic year, the Kindergarten students across the hall were curious and excited about them. Jody, the Kindergarten teacher, wanted to harness that curiosity, and, in partnership with the NuVuX Expert, quickly conceived of a project. Over the course of 3 days, ipads were set up with Tinkercad, kids were given quick lessons on 3d modeling, and each student turned their handwritten names into a digital file. The last few days of school were marked with students huddling around the 3D printer watching their creations come to life.
While building a studio culture throughout the grades, Eliot students have begun to “speak the language” of NuVuX’s design process, approaching the research, design, and iteration steps with enthusiasm and resilience.
Human skills were key in the 4th grade Delightful Interventions studio. While making full-scale models with limited space and materials in their classrooms, students were sharing ideas, materials and feedback throughout the prototyping process. One group was inviting neighboring students to add to their long beaded garlands that were to be woven into a fence. Another group was hearing advice from their teacher about how to make their birdhouse structure stronger by mounting it on a thick cardboard platform. Two students building a model waterfall were using trial and error and working together to find the best way for tissue paper to look like water: twisting and coiling, cutting it in curves, and finally winding it around a cardboard tube to create the correct form.
NuVuX has been an active partner in setting up and maintaining the maker space as a special place for creative and impactful work. In the Spring of 2023, the NuVuX expert is partnering with classroom teachers to activate this space fully, helping to plan, prep, and implement individual, short-form projects based on classroom curriculums. These learning extensions allow students to experience design thinking in even more aspects of their education.
During the 1st grade Soundmakers studio, the classes used the makerspace to assemble recyclables, basic prototyping materials, and hand tools to create invented instruments. These trips to the makerspace allow the students to spread out, experiment with ideas, and come up with unique designs.