It’s hard to believe, but NOVA Lab is now in its fourth iteration. We started the class in 2016-17with a semester-long prototype called “Design Lab.” In 2019–2020 we had our first full (though COVID shortened) year and tremendous, serendipitous success. (Though to be truthful, we did plan for some of that serendipity.) From Make it 100 to Living Now to The Student Section Podcast, students were able to persevere through a tremendously difficult shift to online emergency learning in March of 2020 and still produce some amazing results.
In 2020–2021–a year broken by interruptions and the need to navigate through all the weirdness that was “schooling” during a pandemic–we still managed to develop some interesting projects. Litter Ridder and their app, “Scrap Snatcher,” VR Science Classrooms, Online Chess Tournaments, and Design Thinking classes for Middle School students all happened last year.
I bring these up as a preview to one of the greatest joys of doing good things: Seeing how the learning and the good things associated with it is multiplied beyond the classroom.
Last week, eight former NOVA Lab students (“NOVAlumni”) returned to class (in person and on Zoom) to give current “NOVAssociates” some insight into the way they ran their projects, the successes and failures they encountered, and the unique learning that has endured through the years for them. To a one, the students remarked that the work they did in NOVA Lab has been a huge factor in the direction and trajectory of their lives.
What’s more, they noted a primary reason they decided to spend two hours of their day on a Zoom call or stepping outside of their scheduled classes to speak to this year’s NOVAssociates was because they recognized the huge sense of gratitude they had for the class they helped to create, and they wanted to make sure that the new students had a chance to succeed more quickly and with a more focused technique than they were able to pull off.
Two years ago guest speakers Phil Holcombe (principal designer at Form & Faculty, Head of Design at Project Wayfinder, and Member of the NOVA Lab Board of Advisors) taught us “your brand is the story people tell about your business when you are not present.” What last week’s presentation taught us is that the NOVA Lab brand is alive and growing. We have no doubt that many of our current NOVAssociates will see these NOVAlumni as role models. And they will return,to bring the same insights and arguments about the class to future students.