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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22 MAY 2017 SchoolArts CONTINUED ON PAGE 45. T he Innovation Institute is a two- year interdisciplinary project- based learning curriculum that we've been building at the Shanghai American School over the past few years. This elective program integrates the learning from four of students' classes: science, English, social studies, and of course, art. I have been teaching the inte- grated art course, Innovation and Design, which picks up where the ninth-grade course, Creativity and Design, left off. The purpose of this course is to look at how twenty-first century tools and new media are used to communicate and make art. This is one of a series of articles that describes how we create meaningful project-based learning activities as a team, and how those projects are resolved in a complex and layered approach to art-making. This Is a War Universe Our first big project this year found students creating their own physical game. We began with this quote: "This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war and games. All games are basically hostile. Winners and losers. We see them all around us: the winners and the losers. The losers can oftentimes become win - ners, and the winners can very easily become losers." —William Burroughs, The War Uni- verse, taped conversation Our driving question, which stu- dents debated based on readings for their AP Seminar class, was this: To what extent do we live in a "war universe," where all things are based on competition: "war and games"? Through this frame, students exam - ined and weighed issues of competi- tion versus collaboration—whether we lean towards one or the other as a spe - cies and how this dichotomy resolves itself in the organizational structures of our societies. In their science class they examined these issues through the lens of carrying capacity, or how environments can sustain a finite amount of organisms without collaps - ing. These issues became the founda- tion of their games. Developing War Games Once this foundation was established, students developed games that pro- vided an interactive examination of these issues. Their subjects ranged from the realistic and the fantastic to the absurd—the tension between collaboration and competition were examined through everything from space explorations to sushi belts. Design Thinking In addition to introducing students to these issues through multiple lenses, the approach for making the games took them through the iterative stages of the design thinking process. This process requires students to examine a problem, come up with a series of iter - ative solutions, and refine one of those ideas into a finished product. For our purposes, students prototyped their games with simple materials such as cardboard, markers, scissors, and glue. Following a constructionist approach, they proceeded to build, discard, or refine their ideas. Once they finished this part of the project, they shared their ideas with members of our game- playing faculty and a guest game designer from our community. Finding an authentic audience for their work- in-progress was critical to this kind of project; it allowed them to receive feedback on whether or not their game made sense to a new player. Board Game Synthesis Once students had an approved final design, they moved into our school's War Games David Gran To what extent do we live in a "war universe," where all things are based on competition? M E D I A @ R + S