Announcing NuVu Program for Beaver Students

I am pleased announce an exciting opportunity for our upper school students to participate in an innovative program at the MIT campus for one trimester, beginning in Fall 2010.

Since last November, we have been collaborating with a team from MIT to develop a one-of-a-kind program that would give inspired students a unique opportunity to learn MIT innovation skills. The program, called NuVu (“new view”) is built on the studio learning model and is infused with MIT Media Lab expertise, which has produced some of the most innovative minds of our time. This program will expose students to a different kind of problem solving approach, one that stresses the creation of new possibilities and the integration of all of the traditional subjects taught at Beaver. This spring we successfully piloted the program with a group of seniors.

Through NuVu, students learn, from experience, that the solution to a problem depends upon perspective. Importantly, they learn how to see a problem from different vantage points and that doing so is essential to fully explore the terrain of possibilities. Students are encouraged to try as hard as they can to mix it up and create something new. They work collaboratively, in teams of 10-12, and are taught how to quickly change their perspective on an issue so as not to get stuck. The process helps them to organically bridge the traditional divide between analytical and creative thinking, and to use both sets of skills at the same time. This is what we know to be so important in the “real world,” outside of the academic environment.

Students choose from a variety of different “studio” experiences over their NuVu term, which lasts 11 weeks (the length of one trimester at Beaver). These studios will include both science and non-science based topics led by top Ph.D’s from MIT and Harvard. About 20 students per term will attend NuVu from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., returning to Beaver each day for the afternoon program. There is no additional fee to be a part of the NuVu program for Beaver students.

We have actively helped to design NuVu, with Beaver’s mission and goals in mind, and our staff is very energized to have it as an ongoing part of the Beaver experience. The NuVu program will uniquely give our students experience with leading higher learning institutions and provide opportunities for authentic learning experiences beyond the traditional classroom. Participation will be a significant differentiator for the students.

“Colleges have been universally positive about Beaver’s participation in the NuVu program, many calling it an ‘exciting’ inspiring opportunity for Beaver students. ‘I am excited about the future of Beaver,’ wrote one college admission officer. Others stated they would look favorably upon NuVu participation as a factor in admission.” (Peter Gow, director of college counseling, who contacted 180 colleges for their perspectives on NuVu.)

“Among Beaver’s faculty there is already great enthusiasm about NuVu. Our teachers have plenty of pedagogical wisdom to offer around topics like collaboration and differentiated instruction, while NuVu brings amazing resources to the table including experts that are doing cutting edge work in a wide range of fields. It’s tough to imagine a more exciting combination.” (Rob MacDonald, math department chair and NuVu coordinator at BCDS)

“NuVu is a really smart approach to teaching the elusive idea of creative thinking and problem solving. Using the design studio as a model for integrating an array of disciplines – technology, sociology, art, digital media etc. – is thoroughly convincing. I have been teaching design studios for many years, so I was intrigued when I saw the first presentation to the Board. My intrigue became absolute enthusiasm when I saw the reaction of the faculty to NuVu.” (Jeffrey Katz P’08, trustee and chair of the Board’s NuVu task force).

Please visit www.bcdschool.org/nuvu to learn more about how NuVu fits into the BCDS program and www.nuvustudio.org for details about some of the NuVu studios. You can also visit www.media.mit.edu for info about the MIT Media Lab.

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