The Innovators kicked off this morning at the Novartis headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just around the corner from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Novartis is a large, leading pharmaceutical company. Their offices in Cambridge include expansive, ultramodern, top-of-the-line laboratories.
The Innovators split into two groups, switching activities after about an hour. One group headed into the Community Exploration & Learning Lab, where they dressed formally in lab coats, goggles, and gloves, and carried out a spectrophotometry experiment with equipment like centrifuges, vortexes, and micropipettes. Spectrophotometry is a technique to measure light absorbance. The Innovators experimented with proteins, observing different color indicators and reactions with light exposure to create a standard curve according to Beer’s Law.
The other group gathered with a selection of professionals who work at Novartis. They had a wide range of careers: one worked in communications, another in robotic lab equipment, and another in biological development. The Innovators were able to gain a better understanding and conceptual knowledge of a career at a STEAM company.
After lunch, the Innovators headed back to Suffolk. After some free time in Beacon Hill, one of Boston’s most cosmopolitan areas, they came back to the classroom for an introduction on game design led by Scot Osterweil and Shannon Meneses.
Scot is the Creative Director of the Education and Game Lab in the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. He has not only designed games for commercial purposes, but has also turned his attention to potential academic benefits as well.
Today, he taught the Innovators about the concept of productive engagement—the intersection between work and play, learning and fun. While fun does not necessarily mean fun or giggles, and a game should have some degree of challenge, it should not be too difficult. The key to creating a successful game is making a game that, while challenging, stimulates people without frustrating them.
Then, they applied their theories as they tried out one of Scot’s games, MIT’s the Lure for the Labyrinth. They also tried out estimating, attempting to apply math to seeming games in order to enhance their skills in a meaningful way.
He also explained the concept of imaginative projection, or the power of games to transport someone into another universe and another reality. That power can be implemented to inspire in children the genuine belief that they can make a difference; that they can be a scientist, politician; success story. Games are about identity.
The Innovators finished the session by creating a remake of a popular game and then pitching it to one another, working on the principles that Scot had taught them as well as enhancing their communication skills. Their games included a remake of Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Mario Kart, Just Dance, and more.
The Innovators finished off their day with a game of frisbee, partnering with the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance in the Boston Public Garden. It’s not only important to exercise the mind during the day—it’s important to exercise the body, too!