Category: The Beat
The academic experience at New England Innovation Academy.
Tell Your Story
Do you have a favorite product or brand? What do like about it? What drew you to it in the first place?
Innovators explored this topic in art. Among their favorite brands they were asked to quickly sketch all of the logos they could remember. The class had a brief discussion about what makes a logo great and identified the following: memorable, distinctive, simple, and tells a story.
For the next three weeks, Innovators would develop a logo that would represent their personal brand identity. They would sketch, seek feedback, and refine their work. As they moved to digitize their sketches they learned a few fundamentals using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. For the final class, each student would share their finished logo and poster presentation. The results were outstanding and everyone discovered a new appreciation for art by applying it to real life. Creating logos to represent a personal brand provides a unique way to tell your story!
Find Your Voice
Innovators focused their Humanities studies on voice! Following the study of the U.S. Constitution, the 7/8 grade cohort had their say in the topics chosen for the larger debate. After a class vote, their work will focus on students’ rights, particularly regarding privacy. The Upper School innovators in grade 9 learned and studied Nipmuc and Indigenous peoples’ material. They witnessed the power of sharing stories by watching a video presentation of Larry Spotted Crow Mann, an internationally acclaimed Nimpuc author and founder/Co-Director of the Ohketeau Cultural Center in Massachusetts, divulging history, traditions, and personal experiences. In relation to the “I Connect…” competency, the Innovators utilized their notes from the video to connect to previous learning by writing an assessed “Bite”: 200-250 characters that receive individual, targeted feedback to hone their written voices. After the break, Innovators did a reflection and sharing exercise on their learning from the first 10 weeks of Humanities at NEIA.
TAKE A SEAT
As you sink down into your favorite chair at home or at work, do you think about what went into designing it? Probably not. Sitting is something we do every day and while we may not think about what we're sitting on, we do give thought to the way it makes us feel.
During Innovation Studio, students researched and gave presentations about the history of iconic chair designs, including the influential furniture designers who made them. Students broke into groups and began exploring what goes into making a chair and why it is so important to get it right. They kept this aesthetic context present as we explored ‘functional design’ for their cardboard models. In this exercise, innovators are building prototypes and testing the strength and stability of cardboard as a material.
“The methods we used to hold our stool together changed entirely when the ‘slot method’ we initially tried ended up failing,” said Hans Peter, Grade 10. “We had to brainstorm new ideas for how to connect the pieces which led us to create a new method — sewing. We cut the cardboard into very thin strips and used them like thread to sew together our design.”
The stool they create will enable them to test the strengths and weaknesses of their design, iterate on that design, and ideally create a successful end product.
The conversation is flowing!
Students are using their language skills to chat in small groups about life at NEIA in Spanish. Language comes to life through culture with the study of Spanish festivals and typical phrases used in Spanish-speaking countries. In Mandarin, students are learning the basics with names of fruit, vegetables, and colors. Students connected with NEIA’s sister school, the Wahaha International School in China, to share record mini-lessons and get feedback — they even had an opportunity to meet virtually and share language insights.
SERVING UP BELONGING
Learning ratios through belonging was the highlight of the term for seventh-graders.
They began their math project by reading an article titled, “Food transports Syrian refugees’ imaginations to a place that no longer exists,” to learn about the way food creates a sense of belonging and metaphorically brings someone back to a special place/time of their life. Inspired by this, Innovators determined the food that makes them feel this way and found the corresponding recipe. Recipes ranged from salted caramel brownies to zucchini bread. Innovators used their chosen recipe to study ratios, rates, unit cost, and proportions. The project culminated in baking with Chef Mike to bake brownies, a fan-favorite of our NEIA community.
Power at Play
Energy fuels everything from the cars we drive, to the laptops and electronics we use, and even the homes we live in.
Encouraging students to think critically about energy and its use cases could inform their understanding and help revolutionalize the way we generate and store energy. Innovators were challenged to sustainably generate and store energy by designing their own rubber band-powered cars. Working in pairs, their design would need to meet one of four criteria, namely distance, accuracy, control, or ability to recharge.
To begin they received axels and two wheels. They designed and 3D printed the additional two wheels in Innovation Studio. The end result meant that no two cars were alike and student ingenuity was on display in more ways than one.
“I thought I did a decent job framing up the parameters for this exercise,” said Tim. “The kids were so creative and had such a broad range of ideas that they quickly found loopholes in this project and used each one to their advantage.”
Tim believes that offering projects like this one provide challenging and creative opportunities to apply learning to real world problems and expects to continue this practice. Transportation is up next!
NEIA introduced Pollyanna’s Racial Literacy Curriculum to the Middle School this year.
Pollyanna is a national nonprofit helping academic and other institutions achieve their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. The complete collection of Racial Literacy Grade 8 lessons explores race and racism in the United States and the importance of developing anti-racist frameworks. Grade 8 innovators will develop a deeper understanding of racism as a primary “institution” in the United States. Innovators will explore and analyze both historical and current forms of racism, including individual and systemic levels of racism, focusing on the latter. Lessons will encourage innovators to think about their agency and responsibility. By the end of the unit, students will set commitments to combat or solve problems they’ve identified, such as carrying out anti-racist activism or social advocacy work in their communities.