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Xander reflects on how the teachers in his Architecture + Culture class drew out his academic curiosity and encouraged him to take some chances to produce work he was proud of.

Our program consists of project-based, creative classes that approach subjects in fresh and exciting ways. What subjects? What ways? We love to try new things — which means the Experimentory changes from year-to-year as we play and experiment.

We are offering four courses this year of which students will select two during each session they attend. Note that if a student attends for four weeks, they are welcome to take either 2 week or 4 week courses.


Designing Where We Live: Architecture and Urban Planning

Available in 2 week or 4 week sessions.

Innovation isn’t just flashy tech doing what’s never been done before. It’s also about improving old ideas to address new realities. Cities are one of our oldest ideas, and yet urban planning has never been more important. Our cities are growing fast, we consume more and more resources, and we are incredibly mobile. How do you shape that growth, minimize waste, and keep people from moving away?

Designing Where We Live: Architecture and Urban Planning examines the relationship between individual buildings, whole cities, and sustainable practices. We’ll start by hearing from some of our predecessors in the field: studying the good, bad, and ugly plans of historic cities from different periods. Then we’ll see how these lessons can be applied today – in both when building new and refining existing cities. Then students will employ the 3-D design program SketchUp to experiment with cities of their own. Should the streets form a grid, spread like spokes on a wheel, or follow the contours of the land? Do you have many narrow streets, or broad avenues? What is at the center? Do you hug a body of water or sprawl uniformly in all directions?

The single-session two-week class will be an excellent introduction to urban planning and sustainability, whereas students enrolled in the longer four-week version will be able to dig deeper into their final projects.

This is an invitation to a 7,000 year, multi-cultural discussion about how we shape the places we live. We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

What Would You Do? Adventures in Ethics

Available in 2 week sessions.

If you could save 200 people by sacrificing one person, would you do it? If you were offered a super power, but it conflicted with one of your core beliefs of right and wrong, would you take the power? At the Experimentory we like to say that “innovation happens at the intersection” – the intersection of disciplines, people, and ways of thinking. Anyone can benefit from examining the rules and values that shape their decisions, but it’s doubly important for creative people to consider the what, why, and how’s of their creative impact. Plus, let’s face it: digging into these questions is fun and challenging.

Ethics: What Would You Do? is a class of lively reflection, discussion, and debate. We start with Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and will use ethical stories and scenarios like the ones above to explore from there. This includes case studies from history, classical “Trolley Problem” dilemmas, and stories of your own devising. Students will get to work individually, in small groups, and as a class; they will collaborate, brainstorm, and challenge each other. Students should be ready to have fun wrestling with great topics that will help them get to know themselves and those around them even better.

Ooh La La! French Culture Through Cinema and Comics

Available in 2 week sessions.

This is an origin story. But whose?

Movies and comics are among the most beloved of contemporary art forms. Could you even guess how many you’ve watched and read in your lifetime? And many of us daydream about joining the fun and making movies and comics of our own. But how?

Creative people learn from other creative people, and some of the best teachers are industry founders. For comics and cinema, that means a trip to twentieth century France. There we’ll learn from George Méliès’s special effects-driven fiction, the Lumière Brothers’ documentary-style film, and the Franco-Belgian school of comics. These beginnings will increase our audio-visual literacy. We’ll study these pioneers in their context within French language and culture. All of this will help us make our own films and comics – from brainstormed conception to finished products.

This French exchange will uncover the origins of your favorite arts. Will it also be a beginning for you as a filmmaker and artist?

Note: Prior knowledge of French language is not required

Sustainability: A Fixer-Upper of a Planet

Available in 2 week or 4 week sessions.

Elon Musk once quipped, “It’s a fixer-upper of a planet, but we could make it work.” He was talking about Mars and the possibility of establishing a colony there. But he could have been talking about Earth. Both are fragile spheres hurtling through space – one beautifully hospitable but stretched thin by our nearly 8 billion people; the other harsh with space and potential.

In Sustainability: A Fixer-Upper of a Planet, we will learn how humans can innovate with nature’s machines – plants – to meet our most pressing needs: nutritious food, fresh air, and clean water. Students will imagine how we might use plant-based systems to reach, explore, and live on worlds beyond planet Earth.

In the two-week version of this class, we will study about how plant-based systems are already transforming human life in Earth’s cities. Students will build hydroponic systems themselves capable of growing food indoors and year-round.

In the four-week version of this class, we will learn about the challenges of space travel and colonization. Collaborative student teams will compete in a design challenge. Their mission: plan and build an air cleaning and food production system that models what would be needed to sustain humans during a space trip to and colony on Mars. This course will culminate in a colloquium where teams present and defend their solutions.

If you are curious to learn more about how our courses looked in the 2017 program, visit the Experimentory’s Blog, Flickr and YouTube pages to see how it all came together.