On April 5, 2019, The Browning School robotics team attended their first FRC competition. FRC is a robotics competition for high school students from all over the world. Our students were able to witness teams from England, China and Turkey compete in this fast-paced robotics challenge. This competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game.
Recently the inaugural Lower and Middle School Robotics team took the tram to Roosevelt Island to visit the Cornell Tech campus. Why take this group of boys to visit New York City’s newest urban campus? Opened in Fall 2017, the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island is located in Browning’s backyard. It is, itself, a model for innovation that inspires and keeps our high aspirations on track. Mr. Harp’s team was hosted by Citi’s Tech Innovation Department located within the Tata Innovation Center.
Anderson Harp and Melodie Ting served as faculty advisors to the 25 Middle and Upper School boys comprising the executive team and supporting volunteers who organized the second annual TEDxYouth@BrowningSchool event.
From September to February, a dynamic team of organized, self-managed and hard-working individuals met on Tuesday mornings before school to oversee the many requirements of hosting a TEDx event. Following approval of their 16-page application, an amalgamation of Browning’s student talent collectively joined their skills to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience open to anyone in the greater NYC community free of charge, namely, the TEDxYouth@BrowningSchool event. Nearly 100 guests gathered on February 11 in the Kurani Gymnasium for a live speaker series of profound innovators.
What makes a better designer today? In Form II this year, we experimented with project-based learning. The boys examined existing chairs and reengineered a personal version using digital tools in technology classes.
Rapid prototyping with technology has become commonplace in many professional services. In this class, the boys explored pragmatic tools including Computer Aided Design, 3D printing and Virtual Reality to produce a minimum viable product. In the third iteration, students built a virtual experience using the Unity programming language and Oculus Rift. Furthermore, the boys scanned ceramic models with Mr. Davis and imported these organic structures into a VR realm where they could be displayed next to CAD models created in technologyclasses. Our class meetings often resembled a studio where boys would “learn, create and problem-solve in an unstructured environment” (MIT Admissions Office, 2013). This process was the intentional result of meaningful collaboration between the art and technology departments. Through student process, our line of inquiry offers a glimpse into the world where learning to become a better designer will include an interchangeable order of experience with computers or clay.
3rd and 4th grade boys made paper circuits recently in Technology Class. They used a paper template, conductive tape, LED’s, scotch tape, a coin battery, and markers to create unique cards for the holiday season. Using conductive materials the boys learned how to complete a simple circuit. I guided them through the process with an example I had created first. Next, the boys did their best to make the card light up using a test battery. If the LED didn’t light up they had a chance to tinker with the circuits. They were encouraged to ask others in the class to lend a different perspective. Finally, they used the working light to inspire their own design for a new twist to the holiday card.
This semester in Form II technology, students explored how they can use design to solve real-world problems. The boys were divided into groups and asked to design a subway station for the year 2035. As the boys worked through the design thinking process, they developed empathy for the future users of the New York City subway system. Soon the boys were crafting problem statements that guided their thinking for the rest of the projects. After ideating multiple solutions, each group focused on their most viable improvements. As the groups started to finalize plans, they made rough prototypes out of foam board and push pins. This allowed them to express their original ideas in tangible artifacts before they created their final models using Adobe Illustrator and the laser cutter. After the Holiday break, each group will have to justify their design decisions through a presentation of their final models to the rest of their class.
Over the past month, Mr. Sambuca's Form II Technology class have been learning how to design three-dimensional shapes. The boys are currently using Tinkercad, a free web-based CAD application that allows the student to drag and drop geometric shapes to create 3D designs. The limited learning curve makes Tinkercad well suited for the K-12 setting, where students learn real computer aided design skills and can apply the knowledge as they move on to professional design tools. The Micro City design project was a two week assignment to test the the skill set on perspective drawing using a city skyline. Students were randomly selected a US city and began to research landmark buildings and different skyline views to get their personal perspective. The students were given design rules and size constraints (100mm long x 100 mm x wide x 100mm high). The micro cities are all available below on Thingiverse for download and will be on display in the 2014 Browning School Art Show. Click here to view the pictures.