Innovation @ NIST

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Innovation Spotlight: Non-Screen Activities at Home

When we are restricted with the places we can go and things we can do, it is often difficult to avoid the lure of computers, iPads, phones, and televisions. So much of what we do (learning, working, socializing) is connected to the online world and it can be a challenge to break away. 


Thankfully, many are considering this a challenge and a number of innovative solutions are being shared like those in the picture below. It is interesting to see some of the simple ideas that could be so engaging: word games, diary entries, photo challenges, practicing art and demonstrating gratitude, are all things we can do to help us cope and connect with others.

Even though the situation we find ourselves in is less than optimal, or outright stressful, we also have the opportunity to connect with each other through non-screen activities such as these. Hopefully, this list will inspire people to try at least one off-screen activity a day. If you have any others to share, please let us know by adding it to this Padlet: NIST’s Community Non-Screen Activities (Note: we are fully aware of the irony 😊)


Year 7 OFFline Learning

During the first week of March most of the Secondary school students practiced learning from home on Tuesday and Thursday in preparation for a campus closure. As one might expect, much of that time was spent in front of a screen doing everything from receiving instructions, completing activities, and turning in assignments.


We’ve learned a great deal from these practice home learning sessions. Being at home to learn online is novel and fun…for a while, but it can get tiring. Overall, the students on quarantine are managing well, yet there is still need for more connection with the class. This is where Advisory classes can play a key role. In Year 7, students were given instruction on tasks that they could do OFFline for an hour or so. In 7D, students showed evidence of their activities on a Padlet (online bulletin board – 7D – My OFF screen activity). 

As you can see, many did some cooking and baking, some walked their dogs, others drew, one student reorganized their room, and another made a shirt! It was fantastic to see where the students could be creative and innovative. Given more time like this, there is no doubt that the students would broaden their activities even further.


Although there is no substitute for learning at school, if we have to learn at home we are prepared to do so on and off-screen.

Zooming into Online Learning

Last Wednesday, 5 February, NIST’s Secondary School was involved in an experiment. With recent events (pollution, the Coronavirus) providing the possibility of a school closure, the school made plans to prepare. In the Secondary School, that plan was to use an online platform, Zoom, to host learning activities. Zoom, for those not familiar, is a video conferencing application that allows large numbers of people, upwards of thousands, to interact simultaneously. Interaction can be as removed as just viewing to more engaging activities like sharing screens, files, and voice. Think of it as a Face Time, Skype or Google Hangouts session with large numbers of participants.


To be ready for a possible school closure, NIST Secondary teachers hosted the first two classes on Wednesday online. Students and faculty had practiced in school beforehand, but this Wednesday session was the first real test to see if it worked. From most accounts, the online sessions were a tremendous success with many suggesting they were even more focused and productive from home.

Innovation Spotlight: NIST’s Photo Studio

Over the past summer break, NIST’s Pixar Lab (2nd floor of the Creative Arts Building – CAB) had a renovation to include a space for taking pictures. An initiative of Jarrod Rayner’s and the Art Department, this photo studio allows students to take high-quality pictures of their artwork to share with the wider community and, in the Diploma program, for their assessed DP Visual Arts portfolio. These resources allow students, and the wider community, to explore new possibilities using a professional-level environment and equipment.

As you can see in the photos above, the studio includes a 2.5 metre high, 1.5 metre deep curved white wall (infinity cove), display stands, studio lighting and a ring lights. Once the photo is taken, it can be edited or manipulated with the fully equipped iMacs in the same room. Recently the ring light was used to produce posters for the Movember campaign to promote men’s health. See a sample below of gentlemen and their Mo’s.



Harvesting Food: A new focus in Y7 Action Week

Year 7 recently returned from their Action Week trip to Farm de Lek and Wangree Resort, just outside Khao Yai National Park. One of the innovations to this trip was the introduction of farming and gardening activities at both locations.

At Farm de Lek, students learned about raising fish, recycling plastic, feeding farm animals, planting vegetables, and harvesting ornamental flowers and herbs. For many, this was the first time that they had experienced interacting with the soil, plants, and animals in such a fashion.

Equally challenging was gardening at the Wangree Resort. The main focus was on the use of waste to regenerate the soil through composting. Part of the activity involved the students turning over the compost to let out the heat which can reach temperatures of 90℃.

These activities were introduced this year to help students get a real sense of how our food is grown and harvested. A secondary, but equally important, goal of this introduction to raising plants and animals was to raise awareness of the gardening opportunities at NIST. The Rooftop Garden, on the roof of the Secondary building, is supervised this year by teachers Shompooh Surakanjanachat, Matthew Upham, Nathan Armstrong, Debra von Bargen, and Justin West, and is always looking to encourage students to help in maintaining the garden.

For more photos of the trip, please click on the following link: Year 7 Action Week 2019