This semester, our project aimed to increase students’ neuroplasticity while using a theory of intelligence as its basis. By using different types of intelligence with different challenging brain exercises, we tried to promote the students’ brain plasticity. For six different types of intelligence, our class created six challenges. All of the challenges were uniquely designed. For instance, the Existential Challenge had a chalkboard, the Interpersonal Challenge included easels and paints, Naturalistic Challenge had different kinds of soil and so on. To determine which challenges the students had to take, we sent out a survey and then assigned everyone their strongest and weakest intelligence types. During Neuro Week, the students came to the design studio to complete their challenges. Even though every challenge was different they all served the same purpose of helping the students practice their intelligence types while increasing their neuroplasticity simultaneously.
My part in the project included creating the introductory video, the presentation, and the Spatial Challenge. The video and presentation were the only components in the project that aimed to educate people about both neuroplasticity and our semester project. I have always thought educating people was one of the most important aspects of a project because people would not participate unless they were informed. More importantly, would the challenges be effective if students didn’t know about neuroplasticity? I interviewed students around the campus and recorded their answers to the questions regarding neuroplasticity or intelligence. Then, I combined the records and created our intro video for the Neuro Week. As I was completing the video, I realized how true my concerns were in regard to informing people. Most of the students I had interviewed didn’t know about neuroplasticity and couldn’t answer what I had asked. After this, I focused even more on the presentation. This was because the presentation was the only way we could educate people and help them learn the right answers. After finishing up the presentation, I’ve heard a few people talking about neuroplasticity around the campus which meant that the informing part of our project was a success. During Neuro Week, the Spatial Challenge was set up along with the other challenges. While I was creating the challenge, I struggled with how difficult it should be because if it was too hard, people would give up too quickly and if it was too easy, they would not gain anything from it. Nevertheless, when I got feedback from students, they told me the challenge was hard but most of them still believed that they had done good enough. As I checked their answers, I realized that the feedback was accurate and the challenge was just as difficult as it should be for students to enhance their spatial intelligence.
Before we got into the Neuro Week tough, we had spent a lot of time learning and researching neuroplasticity. The first quarter was mostly the learning phase for the class. The books we’ve read and the research we’ve done was to educate ourselves first before creating a project from what we knew. We started by reading a self-help book by Dr. Shad and doing some bullet journaling. I believe this book helped me to understand how we can relate neuroplasticity to many things, such as positive thinking, and how extensive the applications of neuroplasticity can be. Towards the end of the quarter, we started to do more researches on the implementations of neuroplasticity as we continued to gain knowledge. We’ve watched talks from professional scientists, looked up different aspects of neuroplasticity and read research papers. This time period had a crucial effect on us because we couldn’t have come up with a project if we didn’t know enough about what we were trying to transfer to other students. For example, what we’ve learned from Dr. Boyd created a strong background for the project. In our interview with her, she mentioned that challenging oneself while learning is one of the best ways to increase neuroplasticity, which was the aim of our project, too. There were many project proposals we came up with by using everything we had learned about neuroplasticity. A lot of ideas were created, edited and omitted because we wanted to come up with the best and most effective project. However, in the end, we finally agreed on using challenges and an intelligence theory as the basis of our project.
There are many aspects of the project that need to be revised and many things that I’ve learned about doing projects in general. For one, I’ve learned that managing time properly is really important. Due to the fact that the whole project was created in less time than planned, not all parts were successful. We had to throw away three out of nine different challenges because there wasn’t enough time and we decided to choose quality over quantity. If the project was created during a whole semester instead of the quarter, we could have included those challenges too and gave people the chance to practice other intelligence types. Also, the number of people who participated in the project wasn’t even close to what we had prepared ourselves for, which taught me that advertising and announcing a project is more essential than I had thought. There were at most twenty students coming into the studio out of a hundred and it was discouraging because if there aren’t enough people participating, not all the effort that we have put into the project is appreciated. In order to increase participation, we could have put up posters around the campus, which was something we had talked about but couldn’t execute because of the lack of time, or we could have set up the challenges in a more open space in the campus so that the students would be reminded of the Neuro Week when they saw the challenges.
Consequently, even though the project was not perfect, it was a success. We’ve created the project in less than a quarter and gave the students to chance to enhance six different types of intelligence with effective, unique challenges. In our class, we gave everything we could to this project with the limited time in our hands and created a result better than we've imagined. If the small, aforementioned problems are resolved, Neuro Week would be an extensive and successful project that addresses to anyone and everyone.