School News

Maharishi School Teacher Michael Cook Featured on Atomic Blog

Do you remember being in school and thinking, "When am I ever going to use this?" Did much of your day seem to be eaten up with busywork that didn't particularly interest, let alone engage you? At Maharishi School, faculty and students are working to change that dynamic through Project-Based Learning.

Project-Based Learning is a curriculum structure designed to fully engage students and acclimate them to real world work scenarios, tasks, and tools. The process begins by choosing a meaningful problem to solve or question to answer from within the subject requirements for the semester. Student preferences and opinions are taken into account in this choice, and this autonomy increases as kids move through the grades.

In Quarter Three the Upper School students had several choices for their Project-Based Learning Period. One group designed, sewed, and modeled upcycled clothes for the EcoJam Fashion show. Another team chose to draft, build, and launch rockets. Some students joined an entrepreneurship class and learned how to brainstorm product ideas, then manufacture and market them. The final choice was an app prototyping course taught by Maharishi School graduate, teacher, illustrator, and designer Michael Cook. 

Michael explains, “The class worked through a series of prototyping exercises making simple weather, music, chat, and shopping apps. They then went through two rounds of prototyping their own ideas with the requirements that the apps would have a positive social impact and ethical ways of bringing in revenue. This resulted in students exploring app prototypes for charity, personal health, and personal finance.”

The class used Atomic, an online subscription service that allows users to accomplish their design work from a blank canvas or pull in work from Photoshop or Sketch. Michael explains, “Atomic made it possible for me to orient my students and get them up and running very quickly. I was able to walk them through a super simple design and have them run it on their phones in their first session.”

Using Atomic, students could lay out their work and animate between states, all without having to know how to code! Each stage of design and editing was saved on a timeline so groups could easily explain their design decisions and go back to previous versions if they changed their minds about any development they made.

Another bonus to choosing Atomic was that students could share their work with the class, friends, and family from any device, because each project has its own URL. The share features also allow for collaborative work and instant feedback from team members.
At the end of the quarter the class put on a community showcase at Fairfield’s new business incubator, Fairfield CoLab. Students presented their prototypes on a large screen using Atomic’s preview mode.

Michael and his class have been featured in a blog about using Atomic in the classroom. Check it out!

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