I wanted to share some of my recent adventures.
One of my close friends from California came to visit last week, and we were able to explore a few different parts of New England.
One of our first stops was Maine. We had some of the best clam chowder and lobster.
We also saw a life-sized moose made out of chocolate at Len Libby’s.
We were also able to explore so much of Boston.
- We walked the entire Freedom Trail
- We ate Italian food and cannolis from Mike’s Pastry in the North End.
- We went to the Museum of Science
- We took pictures on Acorn Street
- We found the Good Will Hunting bench and walked around the Boston Common and Public Garden while feeding some squirrels
- We went to the Cheers bar
- We went on a tour of Fenway Park
The only thing we weren’t able to do was go on a duck tour on account of the river being pretty much frozen.
Overall, I have to say it was a well-deserved break and now I’m feeling well-rested and ready for this semester.
I apologize for taking forever to update this blog.
I’ve definitely kept busy these past few weeks. I took Joe Blatt’s Informal Learning for Children course during the winter session.
It was an incredibly fun and intense two weeks. We were all put into 4 or 5 person teams and over the course of the class, each team worked on creating an informal learning venture product or program related to children’s health/fitness, civic engagement, literacy, or consumerism. Each team would research their topic and come up with a project proposal. At the end of the two weeks, you pitch in front of a panel of industry experts who give you feedback on your idea.
Overall, the class was an amazing experience. I learned practical skills – like how to write a proposal – but also gained a better understanding on the children’s media industry. It was so incredible to hear from guest speakers who had first-hand experience working at places like Sesame Street and WGBH.
The topic my group was given was children’s health and fitness. We decided to focus on childhood obesity by increasing nutritional awareness for preschoolers in low-SES communities. Our project was Nutrition on the Move: Nurturing Knowledge for Healthy Habits. We came up with the Nom-Nom Box, an immersive play experience utilizing tablet apps and smart objects to teach nutritional concepts. Each box would come with a tablet and plastic fruits/vegetables (aka Nomables) encoded with an NFC (near field communication) tag. Then a child could take these Nomables and interact with the various apps on the tablet. For example, in one app you could feed Nom-Nom and he would undergo a series of transformations while dancing and singing about the various benefits of the particular fruit or vegetable he was fed.
It was really fun taking our prototype and testing it with actual preschoolers. We learned so much about our project just by observing how children interacted with it.
This course has made me consider pursuing a career in children’s media, particularly digital or web-based projects. I’m going to have to do some research on it!
My little brother visited last week. I was glad he was able to make the trek out here. He was only here for a few days but we were still able to get out and explore some neat places.
The first place we went to was the New England Aquarium. If you get a chance, you should check it out. I didn’t realize just how many different species of penguins there were.
We also explored a bit of Boston Common and the Public Garden. We found that the squirrels there are extremely friendly and come up to you. There was a bit of snow still left over from the previous week and we had fun throwing snowballs at each other.
We had originally planned on going on a brewery tour but we never got up early enough due to staying up late and watching movies. We did, however, end up exploring the Mt. Auburn Cemetery. It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s nicely landscaped and a great place for taking a walk. There are a few lakes and benches to sit at and admire your surroundings. We also went up to the top of this tower in the middle and could see all of Cambridge. It was really neat to see the various architecture styles, and to image who all these people might have once been.
We also took a brief walk through the Harvard Fogg Art Musuem. We didn’t get to walk through all the exhibits, but it was still nice. I plan on going back to explore more of it later.
Among the other things we did were eat. My brother’s favorites were Tasty Burger and L.A. Burdick. We also went to The Asgard, an Irish pub and restaurant, to celebrate David’s birthday on Sunday. Toscanini’s is also an awesome ice cream spot. We discovered 1369 Coffeehouse, which is right in Central Square. I’m absolutely in love with their Almond Joy hot chocolate.
It’s going to be a long time until I see my brother and other family (graduation), so it was nice to spend some time together, even if it was only for a little bit.
Today we presented our projects for T550. I was a little curious about how it would turn out, as there were over 100+ presentations. It all went really smoothly, though! Mad props to Karen Brennan and the TFs for helping to facilitate that.
The presentations were done Pecha Kucha style, where each person or group had 40 seconds to give an overview of their project. (Karen did an amazing job of putting all those presentations together into one giant auto advancing presentation.)
It was really awesome to get a flavor of what everyone ended up doing for their project. Then we had an exhibition where people had the opportunity to explore the projects more in depth.
I worked with a fellow classmate on a project. Our project was a component of a bigger T522 project – some of you may be familiar with my previous posts about our boat game level that we user tested at TEDxBeaconStreet. Emily and I decided to work on the STEAM Lab component of our game for T550. The STEAM Lab is a constructionist space within our platform where students build their next mode of transportation.
Here’s a website that details our process and other design aspects.
(By the way, if anyone has ideas for a new name, we’re all ears! Apparently Full STEAM Ahead, Inc. is a Fire, Water, and Mold Restoration company.)
It’s amazing how quickly time has passed and how far we’ve come in our projects. I’ve really enjoyed T550, as it’s been a space where I’ve seen project-based learning take place with a group of over 100 people. I was able to learn more about and find theories that back up what I was always trying to do in my own classroom. Constructionism is something I would like to further explore, especially in terms of how it can be used to create digital tools and spaces in education.
I can’t believe my first semester is essentially over. I just need to submit some final papers, but other than that, I’m pretty much done.
Now that my semester is just about over and my projects are essentially done, I’ve been taking advantage of the extra free time to explore my surroundings. That is one thing I wish I did in my undergrad years. I figured while I’m here, I might as well explore what the east coast has to offer.
Today we took a mini day trip to Cape Cod. Our original plan was to go all the way to Provincetown but then we decided on a random city called Sandwich. We headed out later than we planned on, and realized that the sun would be setting by the time we got to Provincetown.
It was a little tough at first trying to find a beach that didn’t having a ridiculous parking fee. ($15 for a day?! No, thank you.) We drove around aimlessly for a bit and ended up finding one kind of tucked away that had free parking.
We had to cross this bridge to get to the beach and Walter was terrified. I had no idea he was so scared of bridges/heights. He planted himself down and wouldn’t budge, and we ended up having to carry him.
The beach itself was a little cold but I didn’t mind. It was less crowded. It was also nice to see a different landscape. I was also surprised to see that Gordie and Walter were jumping and running in the water. My brother FaceTimed me and he was also at the beach in Pacifica. We thought it was hilarious that we were both at the beach at the same time, albeit on opposite sides of the country.
My youngest brother is coming to visit this week, and I’m really excited to explore Massachusetts further and show him around. One of the places we’re exploring is the New England Aquarium. The Boston Public Library has a free museum pass program and I was able to reserve a pass for one of the days he’s here.
On that note, there probably won’t be as much academic content on this blog for the next month or so. All my fall courses ended last week, and other than a project presentation this week and turning in some final papers, I’m pretty much done until I start my winter session in January.
I do plan on updating this blog about my winter adventures, though!
Classes are over, final projects are winding down, and the holidays are upon us. I can’t believe how quickly time has passed.
Holidays can get a little lonely when you’re used to huge family gatherings. It’s simply not within our budget to fly home for the holidays. Also, it’s hard to travel with pets and find sitters. So, needless to say, this is our first time celebrating the holidays on our own.
I’m very grateful for the community and camaraderie I’ve encountered at HGSE. Even though we’re far from home, we’ve been able to get together with friends and feel like we’re with family.
Today was our first Friendsgiving, and it was amazing. Pretty much everything was made from scratch and quite delicious. It was our friends’ first Thanksgiving and first time hosting, and I’d say it was a success.
(I would have taken more pictures of the food but I was eager to eat it.)
When we drove home, it started snowing. We were reflecting on how crazy it is that we are here. It still feels very surreal.
I’m thankful for our family back home, but also for the family I’ve found here. I’m thankful to be with someone who supports me and my crazy dreams, and doesn’t think twice about leaving everything we know in search of a grand adventure. Even more important, that he doesn’t think twice about staying when things don’t go as planned. I’m thankful for my fuzzbutts as well, even if they sometimes chew up my favorite things. I’m grateful to be alive and to be able to have these experiences.
(that’s not a pimple on his nose, by the way! I’m not sure what that is because there’s nothing on his nose!)
Hope you all had happy holidays as well!
(My brother got me this awesome cat sweater and I love it.)