Fostering creativity with project-based work
Using just four triangular acrylic sheets which she had created using a laser cutter, Sun Yue made a simple but elegant prism which was able to project a hologram of an animation being played on an iPad.
The project was part of the end-of-semester show for students of Shanghai New York University’s Interactive Media Arts (IMA) course, which had for the first time included animation in its syllabus. The course had also encouraged students to apply simple tools and materials to create their own unique animations.
“I was inspired by an online post to create an innovative projector to reflect simple animations as a hologram. This is an example of a unique visual effect coming from simple ideas and easy tools,” said Sun, a second year student who majors in Mathematics.
The showcase, which is held twice a year, is an opportunity for students enrolled in the IMA course to showcase their final assignments and share their ideas with other students. There are around 150 students enrolled in the course at NYU Shanghai for this year.
In contrast, the project by a team of four students, led by freshman Justin Amoafo from the United States, was more elaborate. Using aerial drones and a 7-minute documentary titled “Breath” that showed the before and after scenes of air pollution in five places around Shanghai, the team’s aim is to educate Westerners on the remediation efforts being made.
“This event gives students the chance to explain and talk to people who might not know anything about a particular topic and it is also a great way for them to get to know new people,” said Marianne Petit, associate arts professor and director of IMA.
True to its liberal arts core, students at NYU Shanghai are exposed to an ever-evolving project- based curriculum which is designed to facilitate the acquisition of both the conceptual insights and practical skills needed to build the innovative human-centered design projects imagined by the students.
“Our students are challenged to create interactive systems that connect people, facilitate participation, convey information, communicate stories, enhance experiences and bring both meaning and delight to people’s lives,” said Petit.
Located in Lujiazui amid a cluster of skyscrapers that tower over a bend in the Huangpu River, NYU Shanghai has a student population of which half is made up of foreigners. Most courses are taught in English. All students, regardless of nationality, receive double diplomas — one from the US and another certified by China’s education ministry.
Full-timers at the university spend two years in Shanghai and three semesters on exchange at one of NYU’s many campuses around the world. NYU Shanghai’s student body numbers in the hundreds but is expected to peak at 2,000 by 2020.
Students of IMA course at Shanghai NYU explain to their peers how their end-of-semester projects work.