What is NuVu?
Founded in 2010 by three graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) the NuVu Innovation School sits a few blocks west of MIT, on the second floor of a steel-and-glass building. Inside an airy open space, small groups of pupils, aged 11-18, spend their days much like the engineers up the street, creating and testing design solutions to everyday problems.
NuVu is a full-time innovation school based on a project-based studio model lead by coaches who are leaders in their industry, experts in diverse fields, and passionate thought leaders. Instead of switching between subject-driven classes that teach a common curriculum, they follow a fluid schedule in two-week blocks, and apply maths, reading, problem-solving, and other skills to the project at hand. With the help of visiting experts from MIT, they bring their ideas to life on the milling machines and 3-D printers that fill the materials lab. Rather than learning separate and segmented subjects, pupils move between a studio that requires them to design a robot to another that requires them to re-imagine Boston with a cable car system.
Imagine a school without classrooms, subjects, or grades. To some, it might resemble a six-hour long recess, filled with chaos, spitballs, and name-calling. Yet to the three MIT alumni, (Saeed Arida, David Wang and Saba Ghole) such an environment looks like a hotbed of innovation.
It may not seem like “school” in the classic sense—but that is the point! NuVu is an off-the-grid, independent “micro-school,” whose pupils are stretching the boundaries of what constitutes education in America. The coaches include full-time employees and local experts such as doctors, engineers, and graduate pupils from MIT and Harvard University.
A brief research period gives way to the bulk of the two-week studio — the rigorous design process — that includes prototyping, critiques from the coach, and constant documentation of progress. Pupils have full use of NuVu’s equipment, including 3-D printers, designing software, art and photography equipment, and other machines.At the end of each studio, pupils present finished projects to guest experts — including professors, practitioners, entrepreneurs, and designers — for evaluation. The rapid design process is “intense,” but beneficial, Arida says. “Pupils come in at the beginning of two weeks, and it’s all sketches and scraps of paper. They come out at the end of two weeks and you see results,”
They’ve enrolled over 3,000 pupils over six years from around the world. Their reputation spread through word-of-mouth and they have been able to form partnerships with public, private and international schools that allow pupils to enroll full-time at the studio for a semester or trimester.
The partnership with Kelvinside Academy is their first venture in Europe