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AP Psychology students explore sensation and perception in new Innovation Lab

AP Psychology students, collaborating in design and application teams, used their ideation and problem-solving skills and leveraged the materials and space of the new Innovation Lab recently to model a sense organ (vision or hearing), explain the mode of transduction (process of converting one form of energy into another) for that sense, and connect that sense to various perceptual concepts and disorders.

This hands-on learning experience was comprised of 3 phases:

  • Planning Phase: To succeed in the planning phase, students quickly organized themselves into design and application teams. The design teams collaborated with one another and with Kathryn Warren, Innovation Lab Director, and Heather Parker, Social Sciences Faculty, to create a plan to design their sense organ leveraging their deep understanding of the structure and function of each component. In parallel, the application teams worked together to identify a plan to present the perceptual concepts and disorders related to the eye and the ear.
  • Production Phase: Students put their plans into action! Experimenting with ideas and materials, students debated, took risks, and learned through trial-and-error to create explanatory models of their sense organ, to complete the application work, and to prepare to present their project as a cohesive whole.
  • Sensation and Perception Presentation: Using a mini science fair approach, the teams presented their models and taught their concepts and disorders to classmates and staffulty.

Mrs. Parker was eager to use the Innovation Lab for this project since she felt it "provides the perfect space for students to experience the contexts that we know lead to longer term learning and retention, such as collaborative problem solving, experiencing content through multiple modalities (rather than simply reading or listening to a lecture), and the opportunity to teach others what you knew." Mrs. Parker described additional benefits to this experience, pointing out, "Although not immediately knowing what the end-product will look like can be stressful at the outset, getting comfortable taking initiative, communicating ideas, researching possibilities, and taking some risks are crucial skills to develop at this point in the students' lives."

Ms. Warren described this project as, "Students were challenged to take what they had learned through language and 2D imagery and translate that information to a three dimensional understanding of the structure. From this vision, they needed to work together to devise a plan for bringing that vision to life using the materials available in the lab. Students demonstrated resourcefulness and creativity turning their concepts into tangible models that effectively communicated the essential structural components to their audience."

Reflecting on their experience, the students, all of whom are seniors, described the experience and benefits of working in the Innovation Lab:

Alexis Garcia: "We wanted to engage people in our project so we developed a hearing test. We had the opportunity to share ideas with the design team. We used the Lab whiteboards to brainstorm. It felt collaborative and interactive."

Augusta DeMartin, Tori Maronian, Marina Mirianthopoulos, Ava Robinowitz: "The Lab space feels creative and the many tools made it so easy to put our ideas into action. We could brainstorm and build our project during class time and outside of class."

Caroline Eagleton: "It was awesome to use the Lab. This is my first time building a 3D model and we got to work in design and application teams to identify the model for the eye."

Grady Boruchin, JD Goldenberg, Harper Thorson: "It was exciting and fun to work in the Innovation Lab because we worked as a team and we could experiment with a range of materials to make our display. Completing a hands-on project and collaborating in such an amazing space was cool.