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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Innovation Incubators are proved great success

We have been waiting for the results of the study made about the  Innovation Incubators by Harvey Seifter, head of the NSF funded project and founder of the Art of Science Learning

He says, "We found a strong causal relationship between arts-based learning and improved creativity skills and innovation outcomes in adolescents, and between arts-based learning and increased collaborative behavior in adults." 


• The high school students who had arts-based learning showed large and statistically significant pre/post improvements in such creative thinking skills as idea range (13%), problem analysis (50%) and number of solutions generated (37%). In many cases, students who had traditional STEM learning actually declined in these aspects of creative thinking -- so the overall differentials between arts-based and traditional learning was even more dramatic (idea range = 22%, problem analysis = 121%, solutions generated = 43%). Thus, it appears as though arts-based learning may be an effective way to "inoculate" learners against the collapse of creativity that may sometimes accompany traditional forms of high school learning.

• Arts-based learning had a far more powerful impact on the collaborative behaviors of adults than traditional learning, based on actual observed behaviors. Examples from the final week of the study: arts-based teams exhibited 56% more instances of empathic listening, 33% more instances of mutual respect being shown, 119% more instances of trust being demonstrated and 24% more sharing of leadership. All differences cited here are statistically significant. 

• The innovation outputs of high school student teams who had arts-based learning showed 111% greater insight into the challenge, a 74% greater ability to clearly identify a relevant problem, a 43% improvement in problem solving, and their innovations had 68% more impact. All are statistically significant. 

• 120 days after the study, high school students who had arts-based learning were 24% more likely to have been able to apply the learning to school, extracurricular, work or volunteer activities, than students who had traditional learning. They were also 44% more optimistic in their belief that the training would prove helpful in those realms in the future. 

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced its grant agenda in art and science. Proposals that demonstrate how both subjects can be woven together in an artwork, or play, demonstration or lab experiment or even an educational effort costing no more than $10,000 to $100,000 were welcomed. A Congressional STEAM Caucus was formed last year led by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Elise Stefanik. The STEAM caucus “aims to change the vocabulary of education to recognize the benefits of both the arts and sciences and how these intersections will benefit our country’s future generations.”

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Arts Integration Works Says Portland's 'Right Brain Initiative'

 This article first published on the Huffington Post
  Director of the Creative Economy Initiative at San Diego State University (SDSU) is also the Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public Policy

Tomorrow the Right Brain Initiative (RBI) serving the greater Portland region releases a report that confirms "There is a meaningful and quantifiable link between integrated arts education and student learning," specifically:
• Students' reading and math scores increase at least 2.5 times
more than the average annual rate of increase.
• This growth is even greater for English Language Learners. Student's scores
increased 10 times more after schools partnered with Right Brain.
• For all children, scores continued to rise as schools engaged more deeply
with the Initiative, with a particularly large rate of increase for English
Language Learners.
The study released today tracking student progress over a 5 year period, was conducted by WolfBrown, a leading research and advisory firm serving a wide range of foundations, public agencies and charitable organizations.
RBI was launched in 2008 by a unique collaboration of artists, art and cultural organizations, school districts, governments, businesses and donors who believed in the concept of "arts integration", using the arts as a catalyst for teaching across the curriculum, and in the process creating a truly interdisciplinary curriculum.
RBI agreed to embrace arts integration as few other regions have done. Other than teacher retraining, their approach is not more classes, more arts or music, more anything. That would be nice but, frankly, there is not money for doing anything more, only doing things differently.
As the RBI Study shows, the initiative is working. According to Rebecca Burrell, Outreach Specialist at RBI, we are convinced that it is "art integration that makes the difference" in the progress being made in the schools.
This school year, RBI is bringing arts learning to over 20,000 students at 59 K-8 schools in seven districts. The arts integration education initiative serves every K-8 classroom serving Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties, including the metro area of Portland, Oregon, and its changing teachers as well as students. Is is also making it easier for them to embrace the principles of the Common Core being adopted by schools districts around the nation.
This is auspicious news to be sure, but while this represents a tremendous show of progress toward creating real world interdisciplinary curricula, the work is not over. As most advocates of the arts and arts integration know, the struggle to recognize the important role of the arts, and art integration has been extremely difficult.
As far back as 2002, a unique consortium of arts organizations expressed it in a report called "Authentic Connections." They said then that such interdisciplinary work in the arts enabled students to "identify and apply authentic connections, promote learning by providing students with opportunities between disciplines and/or to understand, solve problems and make meaningful connections within the arts across disciplines on essential concepts that transcend individual disciplines."
That was mostly anecdotal though well founded. There remained many, simply put too many, people that saw art as nice but not necessary...children's art, even less valuable. Sadly, that is true even today perhaps because many people don't take the term "arts" seriously. It's soft, not muscular unlike the sciences where there is more certainty, more equations, formulas etc. Art by contrast is uncertain.
Unfortunately, we live in a "left brain world" says noted neuroscientist, Ian McGilchrist, in a commentary for The Wall Street Journal:

"There is an inevitable rise in bureaucracy, with paper replacing people, and experience increasingly virtualized. In going all out for what we believe will be our own happiness, we exploit the world and see ourselves as alien to it, rather than seeing that our happiness depends on being part of it, and therefore on helping it to thrive. This is the world of the left hemisphere, ever keen on control".
The right, as well as the left hemisphere of the brain cry out for nurturing, and the future of America depends on reinventing the way we think, and in the process, how education is redefined.
Fortunately, more neuroscientists, psychologists, educators and others are finding that the arts help nurture the right hemisphere of the brain. This is exactly what the more left brained curriculum needs to create the new thinking skills leading to creativity.
We now know a lot more about learning and know "arts integration" works. The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, in a report called "Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools." has said as much after spending years of research and study.
According to the Committee report, "Cutting-edge studies in neuroscience have been further developing our understanding of how arts strategies support crucial brain development in learning."
The Turnaround Arts program of the Obama Administration provides yet more evidence that art and art integration works. As the First Lady Michelle Obama, Honorary Chair of the President's Committee, said:
"The Turnaround Arts program has exceeded not just our expectations, but our wildest hopes and dreams. With the help of this program and some School Improvement Grants, math and reading scores have gone up in these schools... attendance is up, enrollment is up...parent engagement is up... suspensions have plummeted...and two of the schools in our pilot improved so dramatically that they are no longer in turnaround status. And today, the students in these schools are engaged in their education like never before."
Author and educator Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi calls such total emersion in a task, FLOW...a " mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity." Dr Richard Restak in his book, The New Brain seems to agree. He uses the words "plastic" and "malleable" to describe the brain. He believes that we can be creative by acquiring the right series of "repertoires;" that we can "preselect the kind of brain (we) will have by choosing richly valued experiences."
As demand for a new workforce to meet the challenges of a global knowledge economy is rapidly increasing, few things could be as important in this period of our nation's history than reinventing education.
While not everyone sees the Arts as the answer to America's economic prosperity, and in Washington, D.C. the differences in viewpoints become a matter of contention at the outset of any issue regardless of the merits. But the evidence is mounting, in Portland and in other communities, in favor of blurring the lines between art and science, and developing more real world interdisciplinary courses.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Projecting on transparent screen at MIT

This was sent to us by Anand Bora

Published on Jan 21, 2014
Transparent displays have a variety of potential applications — such as the ability to see navigation or dashboard information while looking through the windshield of a car or plane, or to project video onto a window or a pair of eyeglasses. A number of technologies have been developed for such displays, but all have limitations.
Read the whole article here:

Update on the Innovation Incubation project by Harvey Seifter

The Art of Science Learning

Posted on July 31, 2014  by Harvey Seifter in The Informal Science Education site.

The Art of Science Learning (AoSL) is a National Science Foundation-funded initiative that explores innovation at the intersection of art, science and learning, using the arts to spark creativity in science education and foster the development of an innovative 21st Century STEM workforce.

Our current project, funded by NSF grant DRL-1224111 (“Integrating Informal STEM and Arts-Based Learning to Foster Innovation”), has developed a new curriculum for adolescent and adult STEM learners that uses the arts to teach the innovation process, and has launched three year-long arts-based incubators for innovations in STEM products, processes or services, as well as in learning programs and initiatives, to test the new methodologies and approaches embodied in the curriculum.

The incubators—hosted by San Diego’s Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (encompassing 27 art, science and cultural institutions), Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and Worcester’s EcoTarium—have brought together more than 300 STEM professionals, formal and informal educators, artists, business leaders, researchers, policymakers and students to create and bring to market innovative responses to STEM-based civic challenges. The challenges chosen by each community include water resources (San Diego), urban nutrition (Chicago) and transportation alternatives (Worcester).

Since last October, Art of Science Learning faculty have used the arts to teach incubator participants (known as Art of Science Learning Fellows) new ways to identify problems and opportunities; generate, transform and communicate creative ideas; collaborate on cross disciplinary innovation teams; empathically engage audiences; and co-create innovations with audiences.

Gathering data at the San Diego Incubator site.

For example, we use “Metaphorming” (a collaborative symbolic modeling process created by Dr. Todd Siler, our ArtScientist in Residence) to give our Fellows the opportunity to embody, enrich and communicate their aspirations as they launch their year-long innovation journeys. Open-ended jazz improvisation allows Fellows to practice their observational skills and encourages them to “suspend disbelief” as they strive to identify opportunities within the challenge domains. Laban-based movement work helps Fellows learn to “feel numbers” and bring openness to their search for productive convergence around shared insights. The Fellows use visual and spoken word techniques derived from the Surrealists to engage the flow of intuitive insights in their ideation, and clay sculpture as a medium for modeling their ideas and assessing how they “stand up”.

During this same period, the Fellows learn about innovation by introducing tools drawn from the Product Development Management Association Body of Knowledge and Lean Start-Up methodologies, which they subsequently apply to their own innovation processes.

After four months of this “front end” work, the Fellows identify the specific problems they want to solve and vote on the solutions they want to develop, in a largely self-organized process which ultimately led to the formation 26 cross-disciplinary Art of Science Learning innovation teams. At present, all the teams have advanced to their development phases and are transforming their initial concepts into creative learning programs and practical innovations.

While the teams work separately on their 26 innovations, the Fellows are also learning prototyping techniques, practicing visualization skills, spending time with string quartets to observe successful collaborative behaviors in multi-leader environments, learning the audience-centric iterative process of design thinking, and working with a theater-based technique called Rehearsing Ideas to accelerate their iterative cycles by rapidly incorporating audience feedback.

By the final “launch” period of the incubators (October in San Diego, December in Chicago, January in Worcester), all the teams will have developed – and in most cases actually gone to market with—“minimally viable products” (MVPs).

Incubator Projects

These three examples of work in progress already emerging from the San Diego incubator will give a vivid picture of the robust and exciting innovation now underway across the project sites. (San Diego started three months ahead of Chicago and five month ahead of Worcester, allowing us to apply the innovation process to the development of the innovation curriculum through a set of iterative cycles of improvement).

  • “Trash to Paradise” is a bi-national US/Mexico team that is developing a novel ecosystem that uses trash from the Tijuana River and wetland plants to treat water locally in response to untreated sewage flowing from the Tijuana River Valley into Imperial Beach. The team has now moved from 3D modeling and prototyping toward breaking ground on a 5-acre test site they have secured in Tijuana. With the help of hundreds of volunteers from the community, they expect to be operational by October. The curriculum the team is developing to teach the volunteers will provide the basis for a replicable and scalable informal learning program to train unskilled workers in other communities to design, construct and maintain this kind of system.

  • Team “Aqua Diao” has developed a lightweight water-generating backpack that extracts water from air, for use in remote locations and emergency situations. In order to refine their new product before going to market, the team built an atmospheric test chamber, which it is now planning to replicate for use in K-12 classrooms and informal settings to create opportunities for dynamic science learning.

    San Diego Team C won first prize at the San Diego County Fair for their project.
  • The “Kate’s Place” team (named in honor of Kate Sessions, the “mother of Balboa Park”) is developing a model house and garden to highlight innovation in water conservation and demonstrate integrated sustainable water systems. After only three months of developmental work, the team decided to go to market with a 250 square foot MVP at the San Diego County fair, where their innovation could benefit from the feedback of thousands of visitors.  In early June, Kate’s Place won first prize at the fair, helping to promote their innovation and fund their next iterative cycle of development.

Next Steps

Still to come in this four year project are experimental research studies that will measure the impact of arts-based learning on the creativity skills, collaborative behaviors and innovation outputs of STEM learners and professionals, and a traveling exhibition, designed and built at the Reuben H Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. The exhibition will incorporate the arts-based immersive learning activities of the Art of Science Learning curriculum to take visitors across the country inside the world of STEM innovation. The experimental studies represent an important opportunity to better understand the relationship between the arts, STEM learning and innovation.

Foundational studies from the past decade, such as Are They Ready to Work? have documented the central role of creativity, collaboration and communication skills to the development of an innovative STEM workforce. During the same period, a substantial body of practice developed around the use of the arts to enhance employee skills in high performance teamwork, change management and intercultural communication, with 80% of America’s Fortune 500 companies experimenting with the use of artistic skills, processes and experiences to foster creative thinking and strengthen innovation processes.

But research into the impact of arts-based learning on STEM education is limited, and research into arts-based STEM innovation processes even more so, leading the team of 90 national researchers who participated in Art of Science Learning’s Phase 1 conferences (funded by NSF grant DRL 0943769, Arts-Based Learning in Informal Science Education) to conclude that when it comes to proving that “arts engagement improves performance in STEM disciplines…there is the need for a series of more sophisticated and developed quantitative studies than have been conducted to date” (Storksdieck, 2011).

The upcoming Phase 2 research was designed to respond to that need. Starting in September, some 120 high school high school students (40 per incubator site) will participate in five successive 4-hour weekend sessions, learning and doing the front end of innovation. Half will use the Art of Science Learning innovation curriculum; the other half will use a traditional innovation curriculum based on PDMA best practices. A similar study will involve an equal number of early career STEM professionals. Both studies will test the hypothesis that integrating the arts into STEM-related innovation training results in more robust innovation processes and enhanced creative thinking skills. Changes in collaborative behaviors will be carefully observed and measured, and innovation outputs will be blindly assessed by expert panels.

In recent years, the rapid growth of interest in art/science integration has led to a rich body of “STEAM” learning practice, and the 26 Art of Science Learning innovation teams now in the field provide vibrant case studies of ways in which arts-based learning can spark STEM innovation. We hope that by next year, research data from our experimental studies, along with data tracking the outcomes of the incubator innovation teams, will provide us with new insight into whether, and how, arts-based learning impacts the foundational innovation skills needed for a 21st Century STEM workforce.
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