SchoolArts Magazine

MAY-JUN 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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DESIGN THINKING Santiago Calatrava, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, Texas. Photography by Jeremy Dickie. The Age of Connectivity Martin Rayala I patterns and develop an understandn our evolution from the Stone ing of the systems that create those Age through the Industrial Revopatterns and strive to understand how lution to the Information Age, we parts influence one another within a have now arrived at the Age of whole. Connectivity. That Challenge stuwhich distinguishes The connectivity afforded dents to think about our era is a level by networking systems is the many systems of networking and transforming the human involved in urban connectivity never condition on the planet. planning. What before seen in the systems determine history of humanity. how well a city works? How is design A doctor in Guyana has instant access used to improve the systems within to the best lifesaving diagnostic inforour cities? mation available in the world. Political regimes are held in check by public Social Connectivity opinion informed by video images Most striking of the new forms of transmitted in real time around the connectivity is that of social networld. The connectivity afforded by works. The Internet, World Wide Web, networking systems is transforming and social networking services like the human condition on the planet. Facebook are expanding the social, cultural, political, and economic conDesigning for Connectivity nectivity of the planet. The effect is Design thinking processes are ideally suited for dealing with complex, inter- so pervasive that it is hard to believe that the World Wide Web was invented connected networks. They involve a higher degree of collaboration than we by Tim Berners-Lee only twenty-five years ago. experienced with many traditional art Have students create a social forms in the past. Designers look for 8 networking game. Challenge them to build upon the study of the way things are from their science and history classes and think about the way things could be. How can we improve our interactions with other people, places, and things through better design? Physical Connectivity Connectivity is an essential characteristic of our physical world as well as our virtual world. The design of bridges, highways, buildings, cities, and transportation all require a complex understanding of connectivity. Beautiful bridges designed by Santiago Calatrava, complex buildings designed by Bjarke Ingels, and connected communities designed by Andrés Duany are all examples of physical structures and environments that require an understanding of both social and physical connectivity. Have students design a bridge, a building, or a city and create a model or prototype to test their design. How strong is their bridge? How does their schoolartsonline.com Continued from page 8. buildings and the climate in which it will be built? How does their city model account for the quality of life for everyone in the city? Biological Connectivity Nature is a model for networking and connectivity. Designers rely on biomimicry to address design challenges. Biomimicry is the examination and emulation of nature's models, systems, processes, and elements as inspiration in order to solve human problems. Lessons about connectivity can be found in the structure of spider webs and bee hives; the synchronized movement of flocks of birds and swarms of ants; and the cycling of water through rain, snow, rivers, glaciers, lakes, and watersheds. With each design challenge students face, ask them to find an analogous system in nature from which they can draw inspiration. What can we learn from a spider web in designing a bridge that can support a twopound weight? What can we learn from a termite mound in designing a skyscraper? What can we learn from an insect in designing a Mars rover? What can we learn from a seedpod that can help us design a way to drop an egg twenty feet without breaking it? There is too much information and knowledge in the world to expect students to learn it all, but they can learn the systems through which things are connected. Students can identify patterns and learn about systems that govern the universe, solar system, planet, life, consciousness, civilization, technology, information, and networking. Martin Rayala, Ph.D. is chief academic officer for Design-Lab Schools. andDESIGNmagazine@gmail.com How do you inspire? We want to know! Share your successful lessons, areas of concern, and approaches to teaching with thousands of other art educators. Write for SchoolArts! Go to: SchoolArtsMagazine.com/WritersGuidelines schoolartsonline.com 37

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