Connecting Heart with Imagination and Innovation

February 27, 2019 |

By Courtney Dickinson   @CourtneyofAcera

Could motivating positive habits and self awareness around pulse rates, exercise, and stress/anxiety prevention help students’ well being and help avoid cardiovascular disease later in life?    

Last spring, Acera students created product designs for biowearables – they invented devices which could measure pulse, track physical activity or perceptions of stress, and appeal to their peers.  Their goal?  Create tools which could help teens become more self aware of their patterns, highlighting habits and ways of being which are healthy. 

The prompting influence for pilot testing this “Designing for Health” elective is Acera’s partnership with One Brave Idea (OBI), a new institute focused on preventing cardiovascular disease through the lens of promoting wellness and tracking relevant data from childhood.

The result is a biowearables curriculum which we can share more broadly, and we have brought that curricula to a new level of replicability in public schools through our partnership with the Currier House at Harvard University. 

In another of our hands-on projects, students sampled their skin microbiome and engaged in science lab experiments to cultivate and study it at multiple points over time. From these experiments and the discussions around them, they can both see a visible example of evolution, and they can connect scientific learning with new research and real innovations in the world. Such relevance makes science learning feel filled with purpose – learning that matters and relates to you personally is far more compelling! 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all students got to engage in these kinds of real-world and hands-on STEM learning?

Acera’s intention is that, through our Education Innovation Initiative, we will be able to fund specific curricula and professional development projects in life sciences technology, creativity and complex thinking, and emotional intelligence. Currently, we are beginning to bring specific programs into public schools in Massachusetts, like gene editing with CRISPR and the unique blend of art and science in SEEDS StudioLab. As more partners and change agents join us in our efforts, we can bring these novel approaches alive to transform STEM Education broadly and  develop the next generation of scientists, innovators and leaders for our world!