Our mission is to make science a cultural activity. We spend our time developing programs to prototype our ideas for hardware, software, & media which support scientific investigation.

Our Work

We’re always looking for sandboxes where we can explore novel ways of supporting playful, scientific investigation—and developing the tools and materials that requires. Got a lead on something that might interest us? Let us know!

2012–
Somerville STEAM Academy

Over the past year we’ve been working with the City of Somerville—along with local families, businesses, and institutions—to develop a proposal for a new high school in Somerville, an Innovation School extending the themes behind sprout’s work: project-based learning, computational thinking, and a deep integration with the community. Our prospectus was unanimously approved in the summer of 2012, and we’re now in the midst of developing the more detailed Innovation Plan for submission early 2013.

2009–
sprout Spaghetti Dinners

Inspired by the community events of Great Small Works, this dinner theater series brings people together around food, music, & performance united by a monthly theme. Seeking to blur the line between art and academia, the series asks academics to approach their lectures as performance and puppeteers to cast their theater as pedagogy. Each month, we bring folks together around a program of presentations & performances which at their best help us understand a piece of everyday life from a new perspective.

2012–
Signs of Life

Inspired by works like Braitenberg’s Vehicles and Schrödinger’s What is Life?, sprout’s Signs of Life, asks participants to explore what it means for something to be “alive.” We do this by prototyping projects which are alive (in one way or another)—whether that’s robots responsive to feedback or simulations incorporating evolutionary computation. Participants work with media ranging from Mindstorms and Scratch to arts & crafts supplies to Processing and Arduino to bring their creations to life.


About Us

sprout grew from our collective desire for rich, social learning experiences. That desire has become a driving interest in the design of tools & media to support creative, scientific investigation. Interested in working with us? Let us know!

Compelled by computation’s potential to transform learning, Alec cares about the tools we use to think & explore. Before sprout, he studied math & physics at MIT and co-founded nublabs, an electromechanical design firm where he built learning tools & toys.
Shaunalynn cares about what makes for a healthy learning communities. The deep, social learning experiences she encountered making music have inspired her to approach science in the same spirit. Before sprout, she studied environmental engineering & creative writing at MIT.
Nagle’s passion is building environments for sustainable inquiry—for both kids & adults. Before sprout he studied theoretical math at MIT and then co-founded Camp Kaleidoscope (now Parts & Crafts) and the Kaleidoscope Homeschooling Center.

Our Blog

Here’s where we write about our work in an attempt to better understand our experiences, both personal & professional. Related: over at our tumblr, you can find something of a scrapbook of inspiring and provocative tidbits we run across.

Rendering
Learners Legible

Educators talk a lot about ‘personalization.’ Is the animating purpose of “personalization” in to render students legible? If it is, could Sal Khan take the Hippocratic oath?


inBloom’s mission is to “inform & involve each student & teacher with data & tools designed to personalize learning.” Focus on that word, “personalize.” At the moment, this is an exciting word for many people in education. In this crowd, there is a common distinction between ‘transmission’ and ‘construction’ as metaphors…

Some Observations
on Habits

For some school is a place and others it is a process. For all, it is an institution. And institutions need rituals. To most, these rituals seem the mechanics enabling school’s nominal goal: knowledge transfer. But habits can define us, and perhaps the cumulative effects of our time’s texture are more important than how we use that time in the first place.


Every morning, I brush my teeth. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.” I brush in multiples of seven. I shift the toothbrush over one tooth. “One, two, three, four, five, six seven.” And I repeat….

On Needing a Place for Small Things

Most schools look and feel the same, and not because of long evolution under the pressures of ‘student-centered design.’ If biodiversity helps Nature find clever solutions, can it help those of us interested in the future of learning?


Biodiversity helps evolution find new, better solutions faster. And evolution is especially good at finding solutions to multidimensional problems which haven’t proven susceptible to analysis. “Education” is one of these. Unfortunately, biodiversity is not a priority among reformers….