Typically students at ASMS who wish to learn electronics, learn to put together a power supply. That is the way they learn the “basics”. Not so in Innovation Space. They attempt instead to put together a Satellite.
My purpose at Innovation Space is to support “hair brained” student schemes, so I go along. I purchase the components they want and that is about it because once they start asking me questions I would not know the answers.
So I bring along a friend, Frank Horvat a senior network engineer to see if he can help them – not at the beginning but at the tail end of the project. They had designed and put together the circuitry and sensors and developed the software to run them all. All the sensors were being read accurately and the data was being stored reliably until they tried to get all of the components to work together.
I think, you can guess, I had to ask a network engineer to have a look. They needed to understand how a “bus” (a communication system that transfers data between components) works. Typically they would learn this in a university level computer architecture course – these high school kids did not have to know about it until they got everything else working. I am sure with Frank’s diagnosis the bus will be soon buzzing with data from a student- built satellite.
The new term has begun and this is the end of an exciting experiment and the beginning of a new one.
What happens when you let students decide for themselves ?
This was a focus for us in terms of what they wanted to develop, with whom they were going to work and how they were going to do it without any form of external intervention. Another big change this term was involvement with no pre-selection requirements. Anyone interested in making something was welcome to join our Thursday evening sessions.
Towards Maker Space
We realised as we developed the Innovation Space that the greater value it brought to ASMS was not in terms of the super cool projects that students undertook. It was the technological learning that it generates within the larger student body.
Having taught and managed studio projects in Industrial Design at university level, I started innovation space with familiar practices including selection, project planning, feasibility assessment and compulsory background research on every proposition. We have now done away with all of them.
A Weird Way of Learning
What we have developed instead is a completely weird way of learning. And learning, of the real kind that we can see from the progress of student projects, does happen!. This rapid increase in technological proficiency seem to happen without plan or structure , with each student learning technologies that interest them. This they do, by indulging in projects that they have no preparation for, and it is that very unpreparedness that seems to cause the learning.
Today was the pitching day for Adventure space in ASMS – where various program options were presented for students to pick from. I decided to do it differently this term. Instead of presenting possible projects and what we do… I tried to explain what we are about.
We are about this :
We need to prepare students for a world where “humans are unemployable” – through no fault of their own – the program claims. But it could be due to the way we teach them.
I am glad that Innovation Space gave up on teaching. We are about creation, creating that small percentage of employable humans.