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The Experimentory Blog

Our year-round blog has the most recent updates

Exp Summer Daily Blog

The blog becomes active each summer starting just before we're in session. Its a great place to see what our students are doing on a daily basis.

Day 21: Shipping Off to Boston

Aug 2, 2017 3:50:55 PM

At the Experimentory, we believe that innovation happens at the intersections between disciplines, people, and ways of thinking about the world. What we learn in the classroom isn’t simply a function of learning to move onto the next thing. Instead, learning helps us understand our place in the world, empowering us to shape the world into the kind of place we want it to be. Media Manager Kayla Corcoran shares the details on our field trip to Boston, where students could see learning and innovation in action. 

On our field trip to Boston, our students were able to see the principles of innovation and design in action. Said Program Director Mrs. Schaffer: “We teach students to cross boundaries between disciplines in their learning...how wonderful it is that they can see that happening in the real world. Not only does Boston hold enormous cultural and historical significance, but it provides our students with another context in which to see examples of the skills they have been developing and the knowledge they have garnered.” Pointing to an example, Ms. Schaffer said: “The Museum of Science isn’t just about science; it shows us all of the ways that science interacts with other disciplines, like film and culture, and how we see science in our lives each day.” “Boston,” she finished by saying, “is a classroom with so many opportunities for us to learn about our disciplines and ourselves, and we’re lucky that it’s close enough for us to visit.” 

For folks not from Boston (and even folks from Boston), the city can feel like a confusing maze of cars honking and turning without blinkers and of people walking in every which direction and of streets that run into each other than up and down on a grid. But as one of the most prominent colonial cities in early New England, the city’s architecture and culture is a true testament to the creativity and community of the folks who used to and still do live here. One of the city’s defining features - the Boston Common - illustrates how communal areas original to the city have been preserved as gathering spaces. Once designated as common farming fields, the Common is now a public park. Hosting a pond in which its famous Swan boats make their home, the Common is also home to gardens of bright blooms and leafy green trees; statues commemorating the city’s history; and Nancy Schon’s bronze duckling sculptures.

Walking around the city, students in all clusters had the opportunity to consider how this community was similar to and different from their own homes. While Ms. Sherburne used to live just blocks away from where their tour on the Freedom Trail started, Guillermo remarked that Boston Harbor reminded him of his home in the Dominican Republic, but with a twist: “My home is surrounded by water, too,” he said, “but it’s much colder and windier here, and the boats are really different.” Xander and Tysean, who had previously been to Boston, noted that they absorbed a lot more about the city the second time around. Both reported that there’s “just so much to see,” and they loved seeing different parts of the city.

Amelie explained that she found inspiration from the city’s multi-purpose buildings for her final project in Architecture + Culture: “I really like the mix of modern and traditional that we saw in Boston,” she explained. Xander echoed her thoughts, saying: “We noticed that many of the buildings were mixed usage, so there would be a restaurant on the bottom floor and then residential homes on top. It’s a cool way to build in a city where there isn’t a lot of space.”

Students had plenty of their own opportunities to practice creativity while in Boston. While students in Architecture + Culture took pictures of buildings and practiced sketching, students in Music + Film and Theater + Electronics had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Fine Arts and the MIT Museum, respectively. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Amelie reported, the group saw Early American Art. Tasked with creating a storyboard for an image they saw, Amelie’s group picked John Singleton Copley’s “Watson and the Shark.” Copley’s famous image hangs imposingly on its own wall inside the cool, hushed museum. In the painting, Brook Watson has fallen into Havana Harbor in Cuba; while Watson wasn’t rescued until the third attempt in real life and lost his leg as a result of his “involuntary swimming,” Amelie and her crew decided that, in their story “in the end, both of them [Watson and the shark] died!”

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Music + Film considers American Impressionism at the Museum of Fine Arts, where they created storyboards for paintings that told stories of their own creations. Some of the stories were used as inspiration for final projects. 

 

At the MIT Museum, students were similarly responsible for creating stories, Guillermo told me. Only this time, the stories were based on incorporating everyday objects into simple machines. Inspired by an ongoing exhibition by Arthur Ganson called “Gestural Engineering,” students created their own simple machines. Building off a base with pegs, gears, beams, students had to take ordinary objects, like a wooden model, a deck of cards, decorative leaves, and make them move in a way that way interesting and communicated a story. Will N. and Vincent, who were given a wooden model, tried to create a machine that made it seem like a man was climbing up a wall. Guillermo’s group tried to design a machine that would fling their deck of cards, but it didn’t quite work out as planned. “It was still really fun to create things,” he said, “because we got to be like the people who design things. We actually got to do our own sculptures and see what it feels like.”

“One of my favorite parts of the trip was the boat ride,” laughed Charlotte. When pressed about her reasons, she admitted: “I legit danced from day to night...we watched the sun go down over the harbor and then it was dark outside, and we were still dancing like crazy!” Said Tysean: “The boat ride was just an awesome show of community...everyone was dancing and trying out new dance moves and hanging out with each other.”

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A perfect sunset to end a day of adventures and learning in Boston. Students watched the sun go down and the city skyline light up as they had dinner on a boat in the Harbor.

 

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The Exp Summer Daily provides news and updates while we are in session in July and August. The rest of the year, check out the Experimentory Blog for posts feature our students, teachers, classes, values, goals, and plans for the coming year.