Conventional wisdom has it (and rightly so…) that if you want to be successful in any endeavor you must “begin with the end in mind.” We intuitively understand that having a clear mental picture of what you are striving toward will maintain clarity of purpose and provide motivation, especially when the going gets rough. If you read last week’s blog post, you already know that Innovation Lab began its 2016-2017 school year with the triumphant conclusion of five months of work by two students. Sofia and Kathryn presented their documentary “Nanoporous Graphene: A Filter For the Future” (video below) to a packed house at the Bruce Museum Seaside Center.
The screening of the documentary was then followed by a Question and Answer Session (video below), during which Kathryn and Sofia fielded a variety of insightful and complex questions from the particularly engaged and curious audience.
Members of the press were also on hand to take photos and interview the filmmakers. The result? A front page article in the print version of the Greenwich Time, as well as several online articles, including these from the Greenwich Time, the Greenwich Sentinel, and the Associated Press.
For Sofia and Kathryn the day was a huge victory, a public exhibition of high caliber work that demonstrated their mastery of high level scientific research seeking to solve a global problem. In the hours immediately before the screening, they were undoubtedly nervous. They wrestled with last minute technical glitches and experienced the frustration of not having time to squeeze in one last minor editing tweak. But then the moment had arrived, the audience was ready and they went for it. And scored big.
Personal victories aside, the work also serves as a powerful and tangible example of the “end” that Innovation Lab is going for each and every day. Project-based learning at its finest weaves together deep purpose, complex conceptual knowledge, and professional skills – all of which are demonstrated publicly. I hope that as our year progresses our students (both new and returning), faculty, parents, and community will look back to this beginning as a source of inspiration, an affirmation that our work has value and can truly have a profound impact.
I myself suspect that Kathryn and Sofia’s journey has in many ways only just begun. Perhaps without realizing it, they have entered a completely different academic and intellectual world that seems quite thrilled to have them it. My evidence for this belief? An email the pair received in the days after the screening from Dr. Cohen-Tanugi, the MIT scientist whose work they detailed in their film, congratulating them on their stellar work, urging them to stay in touch, and which he signed using his first name, indicating a level of collegiality and respect for them that I find very telling.