The Body Electric Class visits ThoughtWorks


Earlier this month a group of 10 City-As School( CAS) students visited ThoughtWorks the partner for their design studio. ThoughtWorks is a global leader in Agile Software development with a strong commitment to social good projects.

The afternoon started with students, product managers, designers, and teachers introducing themselves to the group.  Next, students toured the office and learned about on-going software development projects. 

Students then met with ThoughtWorkers to get to know one another in small groups by chatting about shared interests around technology.  One project manager shared his story of leaving public policy behind to follow his passion of becoming a graphic design half way through college.  These are the kinds of stories that may resonate CAS students who have already made a choice to transfer from out of traditional high schools to gain more real world experience.   


Another ThoughtWorker shared his story of struggling with school because of dyslexia and discovering he liked and understood computer programming.  A girl shared her own version of learning to learn with dyslexia.


The second half of the class was dedicated to students working in teams with ThoughtWorkers to on design exercises to: identify target populations, pressing problems, viable solutions, and how these solutions might come together.


The goal was for students to partner with professionals to learn design process while having questions answered by caring professionals from diverse backgrounds outside of the classroom. 

The day was a great introduction to design thinking and a modern collaborative workspace. Both professionals and students shared smiles, laughter, and the oh so satisfying “aha moments” that come when developing ideas in teams!


Many thanks to Jared and Andy and the many other ThoughtWorkers who worked side by side with the students!




Body Electric: Final Exhibition


Friday, November 7th 4 student teams presented on their wearable technology projects to family, mentors, City-As-School (CAS) supporters, and designers at Impact Hub NYC.  

The projects were completed in just 6 weeks!  Students overcame challenges like: material constraints, team members not showing up, and not enough time fully realize their works.  

The young designers praised instructors, Miki Foster and Hanny Ahern for believing in them when their group was struggling.  Project-based learning unfolds in starts and spurts and in this case the results were quite impressive: working circuits, ideas with real market potential, and teams of students who learned to work together in new ways.   


ABOVE Art In Your Space teaching artist Miki Foster doing last minute troubleshooting with a student on Swerve Alert.

One student said the bonding that took place between the new students was their highlight.  Alina Balean, an inventor who presented to our class on a Hoodie that tweets spoke with students from Swerve Alert about how they can bring their ideas to market.  

imageABOVE Swerve Alert fielded questions about the range of the sensor that activates lights, vibrates, or pauses music when objects come too close.

BELOW Mentor and industrial designer Carolina Pabon-Escobar with one of the young designers Stop Watch.


When walking home late at night safety is a concern.  Team Stop Watch address this problem by playing loud sounds like a police officer calling for help to scare off would be attackers by touching your watch.  The team constructed their second prototype with conductive tape to make it more flexible.  Their simple circuit includes a piezo buzzer, a button, and Arduino microprocessor.

BELOW Circuit and diagram for the Stop Watch prototype


Blu is a sound activated pillow that plays soothing music and emits a gentle light to help babies and young children fall back to sleep.  They hope to link the pillow to a parents pillow to create easy monitoring of the child’s sleep patterns.


ABOVE Team Blu explain how their prototype as it plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star after a snap of fingers activates the sound sensor.

Huge thanks to Eyebeam, coordinator Erica Kermani, Melissa Birnbaum Internship coordinator and Alan Cheng the principal at CAS, and Sam and Marissa from Impact Hub for their support with Body Electric: Final Exhibition.



New Museum and NEW INC: Art and Technology beyond the classroom

On Thursday, we packed up our projects and headed over to The New Museum and NEW INC.  Check out some photos and highlights of the visit in this post. 

Teams taking a moment in the sun before entering the New Museum.

Many thanks to Sasha who,  leads students on tours at the New Museum for an engaging and thought provoking tour of the Chris Ofili exhibit. Students exchanged thoughts on how the artist dealt with issues of power and safety in the  mixed media paintings.  

Above: Reflecting on issues of safety and power at the Chris Ofili exhibit at The New Museum.

At NEW INC, the first museum-led incubator for art, technology, and design to hear from and present to game changing designers.  

Students heard from a variety of companies including: Print All Over Me who shared a back pack designed for, singer Pharrell.  "How much does it cost to print that shirt?“ asks one student.  "That’s not bad a price.  Let me get a card,” remarked a second student.  We will have wait and see if any City-As-Students will be selling designs on the site in coming days!

Students also, got to check out an Oculus Rift, a tube filled with LEDs that change color depending on the sounds in the room, live 3D printing, and a program that turns brainwaves into water shaking vibrations!

Below: Students witness Artist, Lisa Park vibrate water over a speaker using brainwaves. 

We ended the day with students presenting their prototypes to NEW INC members.  The members gave feedback, helped with circuit design, and gave additional demos of projects.  

The Body Electric class thanks The New Museum and NEW INC for hosting the Body Electric!  We appreciate the opportunity to learn art and technology practices and work with the creators their space. 

Below: Focused.  Wiring an Arduino circuit for a prototype of sound emitting device to scare aware would be attackers.



Body Electric team visits Impact Hub

Last week the Body Electric class took a trip to The Impact Hub to work on their projects with professional designers.

During our visit to Impact Hub, the partner for the Body Electric: Final Exhibition students toured the event space, refined concepts with guest designers, and spoke with industrial designer Arthur Young-Spivey about the future of 3D printing and his work at NRI.  


Industrial designer and professor at Parsons, Arthur Young-Spivey discusses design options for activating an alarm with students.

Thanks to Marissa and the welcoming team at Impact Hub for turning the boardroom over to our young designers for the afternoon!  


Settling into the Impact Meeting Room, our workspace for the day.

Graphic designer, Kareem Collie worked one-on-one with teams to refine the story behind their projects.  He shared with students grappling with what direction to take their project, that conflict in teams is normal and healthy.  

This was the students first visit to a co-working space and their chance to get a preview of the event space for the Body Electric: Final Exhibition.

Join us at Impact Hub on November 7th to meet the student designers and experience their prototypes!



What happens when you stick a bunch of designers and creative professionals in a room full of high school students? AlleyNYC members found out this May, and the results were stunning.

Art In Your Space partnered with AlleyNYC to bring students from City-As-School to the midtown co-working space and design an interactive photobooth installation in just 7 weeks. Aimed at engaging non-traditional students who left high school, the STEM-focused (science, tech, engineering, math) pilot program offers a hands-on learning experience beyond the walls of the classroom.


The premise is simple: match students with designers and creative professionals who will encourage them to take responsibility and execute on their ideas. For this task, 18 students were asked to create an interactive photo booth for their clients –members of the AlleyNYC space, which included Android app designers, training data scientists, and social change advocates.

The Art In Your Space design team met twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, visiting AlleyNYC five times over the course of 7 weeks. During these visits, AlleyNYC staff helped students to tackle their design while students observed and documented the activities of the workplace to determine what was needed for the space.

Throughout the process of discovery, students were exposed to various technologies, including 3D printed images of members in chocolate, capturing work activities using drones flying overhead and attaching mini-cameras to member’s clothing (think Go-Pro for the modern work space). At the end of their observation period, the students pitched concepts to members of AlleyNYC, who gave feedback the students used to refine their ideas until they arrived at the “Selfie Stand.”

The” Selfie Stand” is a fun and interactive experience where visitors take pictures and choose from a series of custom filters. The booth can also be moved, which makes it ideal for use at parties.


After 7 weeks and a successful build, the students invited the community to get to know their “Selfie Stand” at an event that drew designers, parents, teachers, representatives from the NYC Department of Education programs Digital Ready and iZone, and the educational director of Eyebeam. As part of the evening, students answered questions from the crowd about how the project was built and the lessons they learned.

Thanks to all who supported these students and a special nod to AlleyNYC’s staff and members who gave students feedback, spoke about their career paths and shared insights into what it takes to be successful in art and technology careers.



Launch Party Success

On Wednesday, June 18th students from City-As-School (CAS) presented the Selfie Stand to a packed room at AlleyNYC after 7-weeks of intense design and technology learning and building.

Students presented the features and answered questions about how they chose the visual effects (these were the ones we liked best), why the kiosk design (Alley wanted an open feel to the photo stand), and what they enjoyed most (building at partner Eyebeam).

Many thanks to all of the teachers from CAS and principal Alan Cheng for coming out to support the young artist.  We were also, please to have Rob DiRienzo from Digitial Ready, Erica Kermani of Eyebeam, and Alana Laudone from iZone Academy check out the Selfie Stand.

So what’s next for the Selfie Stand and CAS students who created?  Several students will be working on making adding features so the booth can be used at an upcoming 4th of July event thrown by AlleyNYC.

And City-As-School is interested having students develop a version of the Selfie Stand to improve the intake photo process for new students.

Here are some pictures from the event!



Arts In Your Space on Truonex - Meeting with City As School and Eyebeam

This week marks the end of Arts In Your Space as a class project for Government 3.0.  I submitted a slide deck, short and long memos(very much a work in progress), a video (first time using iMovie), and a link to this blog.

Check it out at:

Now on to making the pilot a reality.  I’m off to City As School(CAS) to meet with Melissa Birnbaum, Internship Department Head at CAS and Erica Kermani, Education Coordinator at Eyebeam.

We will be discussing:

Goals of project

What teacher(s) can we partner with to integrate the project into CAS curriculum?

What’s need for a proposal for funding the program(Digital Ready)?

Marketing for the program?

Timing for the program:  Start date and end date

I must say I’m more than a little bit excited to have this project shift to a team effort!!!

More updates to come soon!

Please share your thoughts on Truonex on how we can better prepare high school students at risk of dropping out for 21st Century Careers by creating interactive art projects with professionals through after-school programming.



New Direction!

This afternoon, I was fortunate to have Arnaud Sahuguet, a product manager who spoke to our Government 3.0 class earlier this week.

He and I brainstormed a new direction for my project.  Here is an initial outline of the concept.

A challenge for students to build a sculpture that can be built with a 3D printer and assembled with a kit of parts to be displayed in businesses, schools, and public spaces.



John Doe Project


- Tree - Makes a forest

- Trash Can

- Table

- Stairs 

- Planter 

- Lighting units

- Water fountains

- Elevators

- A body part mouth, hand, foot, an eye

- Animals

- a boat

- a space ship

Types of actions the object can execute:

  • Project Data by changing colors 
  • Shrink
  • Face the sun
  • Light up
  • A display screen
  • Use movement sensors
  • Rotate to face a person
  • Project pictures via bluetooth
  • Piezo sensor turns on something when you step on a mark
  • Make sound
  • Screen with readouts

Include a kit:

  • Arduino
  • LED's 
  • Base
  • Branches
  • Decoration is allowed
  • Motors
  • All others items must by found or discarded
  • Wireless capabilities


Must fit in a box  3 ft by 3 ft base that is 5 feet tall.

No more than 12 pieces.

Must include directions to assemble the sculpture

Possible Challenge Themes:

- Make it an adventure that leads to another sculpture in another part of town

-  Have it respond to space differently 

Panel of judges decide on selection for winners.

A youtube channel will display the art pieces.  It can be pitched new 

Units would be made available for purchase by companies or schools or public places.



  • Experiment and design project
  • Exposure to professionals
  • Hands on learning

Seeking Sponsors or grants to cover the cost of program implementation, 3D Printing Fees, and kits.  



The Leadership Program

This week I spoke with Blonka Winkfield  Vice President of Development and Expansion at the Leadership Program.  Thanks to Kareem Collie, a fellow Gov 3.0 student and amazing graphic designer for the introduction.

The Leadership Program was started in 1991 by Ted Otis as a training program with two chief goals: to teach educators how to use New York City’s cultural institutions and diverse communities as an educational resource, and to provide effective training in leadership skills in an educational and greater social context. 

Blonka and shared our experiences with difficulty helping students to find and retain quality internships.

 I think her exact words were, “of the 25 to 30 programs I know of working on getting kids internships they would all say the process is a hot mess.”

We then turned the conversation to ways other than full on internships that the involvement of professionals can enhance art and technology programs ability to prepare students for the workforce.

Her top suggestions were:

  1. Have students visit business to see and learn about the types of jobs that they would not otherwise know of.
  2. Look at programs like State Farm’s community involvement program as a model of how to engage with corporations on a large scale.
  3. Seek out companies that may have an interest in youth culture so that “think tank” sessions can be set up for students to help companies in addition to employees sharing lessons from their projects. 

I asked Blonka to forward my draft project plan to a few co-workers.  She said that a project that can help more professionals connect with students to collaborate would lead to some students gaining internships organically.  

I’m very grateful for her insights and will reach out to more programs like the Leadership Program who have the capacity to scale a project that increase professional involvement in after-school arts and technology programs.



The Beam Center

Today I asked Brian Cohen, Director of the Beam Center about how hands on learning projects can be improved.

The Beam Center and Beam Camp  offer programs for students to explore and learn creatively from artists and designers.  

Brian has offered me invaluable insights and connected me to great resources in the Maker Community.  He invited me to observe programs where students learn electronics, costume design, and programming.

Here are some insights from our conversation.  This is from memory

How do you find teachers and partners to support your projects?

We use certain platforms like are summer camp to bring people in.  We invite 5-7 guest artists every week of camp. This allows us to have authentic interaction with many artist and decide if they are a good fit for future projects.  We also request submissions for art projects.  I’d love to have someone here all day making calls and doing relationship development.

Here are 3 needs for Beam Works

  1. Opportunities to learn about careers first hand through visits to studios, factories and relevant job sites.
  2. More research and assessment to prove the efficacy of programs.  (The Beam Center was awarded a grant to support this effort recently)
  3. Finding spaces where art projects can be displayed.  This motivates students and validates there work.

I’m also grateful for help letting go of concepts not at the core of this project.  For example, raising funds for students through these projects is a good idea.  One that can be developed after some of the above improvements are in place.

I look forward to speaking with Meredith of MOUSE Corps on Monday to get insights in how partnering with professionals can enhance the learning experience of youth in after-shool science and arts programs.




Yet another maker program.  This time students are visiting Poly game design studio.  There are a couple of great videos on here of how students can use paper prototypes to improve projects.

Dream Yard has many amazing programs focused on learning through the arts.  DreamStudio is another program for teens that teaches music production, design, and digital photography.

Partnering with a well established organization like Dream Yard with many established connections could be an attractive option for corporate sponsors and bring greater funding to youth programs.




Some reflections on learning and engagement from the Kickflip Team

Another NYC program which succeeds at teaching technology skills and engaging youth through their interests.  

So, why do I like this program?

Well, they bring together skaters and videographers for one.  It’s great to see more programs bringing together student from diverse backgrounds!

Also, they involved students from the New School and the Harold Hunter Foundation.  

And the students were able to learn programming skills to make a video game by attaching an Arduino, a simple computer with sensors to a skateboard.  

Inspiring learning opportunities are everywhere.  Kickflip is another program I’ve been speaking with about being a collaboration partner for this project.

Tal, the coordinator of the program had insights to share:

1. Make sure you have a way to attract students to your program

2. Lessons learned from skateboarding like resilience (get up and try that trick again!) are readily applicable to prototyping electronics.

3. None of the students came in with game design skills and they were able to learn.  You can start from scratch and find success with the right material and teachers.




I met Spazecraft, one of the teaching artist seen is the video at a Music Technology for Education Showcase event hosted by NYC   

I love the way World Up is working bringing together hacking and hip-hop. 

Since they are looking for 25,000 dollars to match a Mozilla Grant I think this program could be an ideal partner organization for a company looking to do some good by helping youth (and get some great press in the process).



Interactive Arts Project

As an exercise from my Government 3.0 class I answered these 3 questions with a partner.

What does the Pilot look like?

A pilot for Interactive Arts Project would be implemented by connecting an existing after-school program such as Beam Works to a design firm or corporate sponsor.  The students visit the design firm or sponsors office to learn about their process for developing projects.  The students and partner company would then work together over the course the after-school program (10 weeks in the case of Beam Works) to plan, build, and refine the project.   A budge and project milestones would be established to guide the project.  At the end of the pilot the project would be displayed publicly.  Fans of the project would have the option of donating to students to support their future education or art projects.  The company partner gets spotlighted for supporting disadvantage students to gain professional, artistic, and interpersonal skills.

What is the big vision?

The day when corporations help fund cutting edge project based learning opportunities to help communicate brand identity.  We imagine groups of students developing skills, technical, communicative, and interpersonal with the resources of companies large and small.  Both financial and mentoring support are crucial for underserved high school students to become leaders and makers.   Can you envision a fleet of student made spaceships rolling converging on Times Square to teach about space and electronics and hands on learning.  The goal is to push the boundaries what is possible when artists assist students in planning projects.  When youth have the execution know how of corporations and the budgets to make inspiring works possible what will they create?

5 Outcomes or tactics

1. Coordinate with companies to craft partnership plans with schools, after-school, and summer programs to make interactive art projects.

2. Establish locations and themes for projects through design thinking practices.

3.  Set up a plan for skills building classes that will enable students to bring their creative visions to life in alignment with the parameters established by companies.

4.  Use visual media to document project progress, lessons learned, surprise challenges, and breakthroughs.

5.  Connect the project to a site for fans of  the art to give contributions to fund student’s college education or future art projects.