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Art Teachers NuVu Day #2: City Synesthesia

Today we had a lot to take in! 

  • The NuVu coaches  provided a new prompt this morning that we will work on more in-depth over 3 days in small groups

  • We learned more information on the nature of NuVu studios (similar to the concept of seminars)

  • NuVu staff and innovation campers were given time to socialize after our work session in order to get to know educators from MIT, NuVu staff and people from around the globe involved at NuVu.

Day 2 prompt: Synethesia in the city of Cambridge. 

The focus of today was interpreting the urban environment based on our senses and incorporating observations of the community, natural world and the built environment. We had 20 minutes to observe the 2 block radius around NuVu.  We spent time standing on street corners with our eyes closed and ears open, observing the social interactions, or lack there of, and taking in the architecture and businesses of the city. It's amazing what you can experience when you are in tune with your senses and surroundings!  We were asked to take this experience and think of something that would alter, enhance, or create pause, a new experience, a way to engage the senses, a solution to a problem, a way to bring people together or other sensory related innovations to the surrounding environment.  After we got back from our sensory walk everyone pitched ideas for innovation designs.  After hearing all the amazing ideas we paired up with someone with a similar concept and spent a small amount of time refining ideas.

Megan's Group: Our team focused on the challenge of sensory overload in a bustling urban setting, primarily on the depth and diversity of sound. We observed various  layers of sound, such as industrial/construction, traffic from cars/trucks/buses, people-generated (conversations, shouting, arguments) and the occasional nature-related sound, such as the chirp of a bird, the scampering of a squirrel or the wind. The nature-inspired moments were few and far between but a welcomed "sensory treat" in stark contrast from the different sound being observed. We brainstormed possible solutions to modify the urban soundscape to provide pedestrians a different or altered sensory experience. One idea we came up with was to increase the amount "sensory treats" that could redirect your attention from industrial/traffic/people-generated sound to a nature-related sound. Expanding outward, the "sensory treats" could be experienced by more than just sound. Which led us to "sensory tunnels." Imagine a bustling busy street, loud, polluted, busy, overwhelming. On one side of the street, people walking on the sidewalk are activating sensors that alter the experience for the pedestrians on the opposite sidewalk through light, scent or sound. On the next city block, the activators become the experiencers of the altered sensory experience. This brainstorm session kept blooming, so tomorrow we will go through the next steps of creating model iterations of our ideas, keeping in mind our goal of modifying the urban soundscape for a more enjoyable urban experience.

Angelique's Group: Our idea stemmed from analyzing the layout of the street and pedestrian areas.  Very typical, a busy street, a bike lane, a large sidewalk with bus stops, dinning in the open and lots of people.  When our eyes were closed, or open, we noticed the emissions from cars, the noise from trucks and the other city sounds that were distracting from the amazing city.  Our concept was inspired by the graffiti ally pictured below. We started with a barrier/canopy concept that would help block the unpleasant and secure the pleasant experiences of the city.  We wanted to keep the natural light while giving some shade, give pleasant sounds and images that intrigue. Imagine a modern museum, art exhibit and sensory experience as you are in transit, waiting for the bus or strolling down the street.  NuVu is surrounded by a melting pot of cultures due to the proximity of MIT and Harvard as well as the diverse permanent population. Our goal tomorrow is to come up with model iterations that will help teach empathy about each other through interactive, sound, and visual images integrated with the  canopy/barriers. More to come...  See the initial brainstorm images and inspiration below. 

NuVu's philosophies will come back to Pathways High.  Here are some highlights from today's learning:

  • "Seeing" Collectively: More eyes on a project lead to more ideas generate, ideas pushed to new iterations, more points of view understood.   Student Roles: Peer to peer collaboration across grade levels, across teams and within teams.  Beyond the Classroom: Community engagement, off-site learning, open studio invites to local experts, businesses, leaders in the community, local colleges, parents and consultants (sounds like Pathways!)

  • Always Connecting: Community, natural environment, built environments. Inquiry process is always intertwined with the studio/seminar theme and these concepts. 

"The most valuable skill is your ability to learn."

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