I always remember my time at college with chills. Long hours studying, uninteresting labs and a feeling of lack of purpose. Of course, there were exceptions, both as courses and teachers but generally speaking that was and continues being my feeling.
I’ve always said that Spanish Universities (or at least the one I studied: Telecommunications in Las Palmas de GC, Canary Islands) should be more practical. It wasn’t until I left the country and I started working, first as an intern and lately as a full time full stack developer, that I found a purpose in technology.
This beautiful project, called Pulse & Bloom that I just stumble upon is a great example of what you can make students do. It might not seem like a real world problem but a project like this has a lot of advantages. You teach them the technologies needed, delivery, teamwork and everything keeping them motivated. It’s also a perfect blend between art, hardware, software and education.
Pulse & Bloom is a 2014 honorarium installation. The core team of 6 people — Saba Ghole, Shilo Shiv Suleman, Rohan Dixit, Heather Stewart, Luke Iseman, and Samuel Clay — built 20 interactive lotus flowers made out of steel and rowlux. Each lotus flower ranges from 8 to 18 feet tall, each of which lights up with your pulse. You and another person can put your hands on a couple of Hamsa hands at the base of the lotus flower and your respective heartbeats will light up the flower.
I recommend you to take a further look in the NuVu Studio project webpage
Most of the people will say that you need resources, money, time… All those are excuses. Overcoming the problems will be part of the learning too. The closest thing we did was a small company for Economics which organized a small Employment and Technology forum. It incredibly ended being profitable (with most of the profits from the after party).
I’ve been disconnected from the University world 10 years already and I’d like to know that the method has changed. That everything has evolved to a more practical method, as the one I experienced in ENST Bretagne or what I’ve heard from some Tech Colleges here in US.
If you’re teaching and reading this, please, make your students create things, they’ll thank you later from it. If you’re already pushing your students to do cool stuff, thanks!