School as a Mesh Network

Ubiquity, Data, and New Learning Environments

Our open-project learning spaces and connected technology allow for self-organized learning environments, STEM and STEAM laboratory work, and the exploration of the data-driven world (“the Internet of Things”).

For students to become global citizens, they need a school that promotes self-organization, inquiry, innovation, and “design thinking,” an approach to learning that emphasizes the design of prototypes to solve problems.

Our school building has interactive whiteboards on every floor, in hallways and in classrooms, along with networked computer stations, a coding and robotics lab, hydroponic plant labs, weather stations and much more. At any moment, a few students or a whole class can connect with peers or mentors from around the world to discover and learn together in real time. Using these tools, students also can connect the data from their projects about, to name a few examples, sustainable water systems, weather and climate patterns, and how play effects our learning, to a global consortia of other individuals, schools and organizations. Through these interactions, students come to understand how their school functions as part of a global “internet of things”.

Case Study

Grade Six: From Code to Bionics

On an average week, the sixth grade uses a wide variety of technologies across the school to code, learn robotics and connect with the world. On their MacBook Pros, they learn the essentials of programming languages like MIT’s Scratch, Java and Python. They extend their programming language learning on iPads with the Hopscotch app. In addition, some students are taking online program language courses on Python and Ruby on Rails through Code School.com.  Students are immersed weekly in project-based robotics challenges that cultivate the inquiry and innovation necessary to move on to more advanced computer science, engineering and design. Students also use iMacs in our self-organized learning centers located outside the classrooms to complete projects for their NXT Lego Robotics Program. Students take Field Studies regularly to collect data about the real-world application of code and robotics. For example, during a recent Field Study to a biomedical lab in Chicago, students discussed the design process for prototyping bionics and experimented with software and hardware used to create artificial limbs.