Visiting Brightworks

Visiting Brightworks

Visiting Brightworks

Arriving a day early for the NAIS Conference in San Francisco, our team took the opportunity to visit the Brightworks school. Greeted by Founder and Education Architect Gever Tully who wrote the book 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do, I was immediately struck by the open layout and the sense of freedom and possibility in the school.

Visiting BrightworksVisiting Brightworks
Visiting BrightworksStudents can access tools to construct prototypes of nearly anything one can imagine. The more dangerous tools are placed higher on the wall, if only to give pause to a student before proceeding to utilize. Visiting BrightworksVisiting Brightworks
Visiting Brightworks We were given a tour by one of the older students who was working on an airplane when we arrived. There are no classrooms, only spaces. No classes nor grade levels, only ‘bands.’ Students gather in spaces to following specific learning arcs and/or their own learning passions and curiosities.Visiting Brightworks No lockers, only cubbies. Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Visiting BrightworksA stack of “Lord of the Flies” shows that classical literature has a place in every school.
Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks Spotted some familiar sights like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and some unique sites (we don’t have our own school dog yet).Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks I felt right at home once the students brought out the drone. They let me try on the FPV (First Person View) goggles which puts you in the front seat of the aircraft. Visiting Brightworks Visiting Brightworks

My visit to Brightworks was both inspiring and uncomfortable. I’m so glad we had the chance to tour and learn. As someone who grew up (and taught) in fairly traditional Atlanta schools and who currently works in a school that leads in innovation, I had a lot of questions about how certain logistics worked.

Inspired by folks who are trying a different approach to educating children, I left wrestling with the healthy tension between letting curiosity (a natural motivator) drive learning v. a prescribed, strict set of require content (learning outcomes). I think there is a need (and space) for both.

What do you think? When designing a lesson, unit, classroom, school, or any learning environment, what is the best mix/balance of content and curiosity?

Drones: Gateway to Learning, Design, and Impact


Drones: Gateway to Learning, Design, and Impact

Drones provide a gateway to learning many practical and helpful uses for human-centered problem solving, as well as simple fun and curiosity. Here are a few ideas to consider…

Paint Your House

Advertise your product/company with a flying drone billboard

Ambulance Drone for Medical Emergencies

Submarine Periscope

Save the lives of African babies with HIV testing

Drone Racing is the Sport of the Future

Search for Lost Dogs

Monitor Marine Reserves and Spot Illegal Fishing

Droneport for Africa

A Robot That Flies Like A Bird

Find the Best Waves for Surfing Safely

Avoid Traffic by Flying Yourself to School or Work

Deliver to Ships at Sea

Detect Land Mines

Save People From Drowning

What applications can you share?

Curiosity and Intelligence

Curiosity and Intelligence

Curiosity and Intelligence

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation hosted the 3rd annual Council on Innovation last Friday. Students in the Upper School iDiploma cohorts read and discussed the article ‘Curiosity is as Important as Intelligence‘ beforehand, then listened as the panel of external experts discussed the same article.

The conversation was interesting. Here are a few of the quotes and questions I captured…

Complexity is an indicator of change.

No one says, “I’m going to manage complexity today.” (As HOMS, I might disagree)

How much is innate and how much ‘around the margins’ can you change? CQ, IQ, EQ, SQ? What is the role of genetics?

I’m curious about self-awareness, self-regulation, and human nature.

Curiosity and Intelligence

We have as many internal genetic traits as we do external (tall, fast, etc.) There is no entitlement for genetic traits.

What role does hard work play? Einstein has a quote about everything. Somewhere in that hard work something is going to happen. I want to hire the hard workers and then give them the coaching.

Technology is an enabler of curiosity (and intelligence).

Curiosity does not equal intelligence. Sometimes curiosity leads us to bad stuff.

How can EQ and CQ be more heavily weighted in the college admissions process? Does this become the new diversity issue? Part of me worries about that.

What would the author have said if he had 6 more pages?

I believe curiosity is MORE important than intelligence.

I don’t hire anyone based on where they went to school, but what they’ve accomplished and how they present themselves.

The SAT is a pretty good predictor of what one’s grades will be like in their first year of college. That’s about it.

If it’s not a good predictor, but that’s what’s being used, what can we do to change the metric?