Newton's Lab - the class

(New for '12-'13 school year)

"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men (and women) who can dream of things that never were." -John F Kennedy
“Being realistic is the most common road to mediocrity.” -Will Smith
Newton’s Lab, the class or the think tank, is an innovative educational concept that engages students in an immersive, mission-critical classroom surrounded by artistic and scientific solutions, as well as significant and complex social issues. Students operate through the design process. The think tank focuses its energy towards hands-on problem solving, building the culture of innovation, promoting peer teaching and learning, and cultivating curiosity and ingenuity.

Fall Semester ‘12
Theme = 21st Century Classroom
Major project = the courtyard

Design Thinking BootCamp
Design Challenge #1
“School Desk for the Future”

-What new classroom tools can we create?
-How will these tools affect the process of learning?
Design Challenge #2
“Architecture of Learning”

-Designing the process of cognition
Design Challenge #3
“Geography of a classroom”

-Mapping the functions of physical classroom space
Design Challenge #4
“Universe in a box or there’s an app for that”

-Learning is a multi-sensory process echoed
through guided engagement with
cutting edge tech tools
Newton’s Lab, the class, operates around a semester based theme, (themes include: the classroom, myth, fun and games, stuff, society, risk, etc), during which students participate in four, month-long design challenges. During the first month of every semester, students learn essential design thinking skills utilizing IDEO and Stanford University’s Design Thinking Toolkits. Design challenges in each theme are based on an iterative model.

In the Lab

(a few of the) Projects Incubating in the Lab (click a link to learn more)
  • BU Engineering - Creating the Societal Engineer. BU Engineering and NPS fostering a sense of purpose and appreciation of how an engineering education and its experiences are a superior foundation for improving society.
  • Short Film Festival- A juried festival of student produced films
  • Synthetic Biology – MIT and NPS collaboration in Bioengineering
  • MASS 9 for the 9th – National model for collaborative rebuilding in New Orleans
  • Senior Capstone Projects – SYP, SPARC, WISE
  • Greengineers – Award-winning green STEM education
  • Dover Legacy Scholars – A wrap-around program to narrow the Achievement Gap
  • Libraries as Innovation Labs – Coordinating our 21 libraries as Innovation Zones for student, faculty, and the community
  • SOS, Sustainable Oceans Summit – Marine Science initiative in collaboration with MITSeaGrant, UMASS, NOAA, Boston Harbor Islands
  • City-wide Robotics – An umbrella structure to coordinate FLL, FIRST Robotics and other robotics curriculum
  • Kinetic Sculpture Project – Generating STEAM with STEM
  • Mindfulness – Stress and Anxiety reduction research

Alumni Innovator's Award award.jpg

The "Lab" and the NNHS Learning Commons bestowed the inaugural Alumni Innovators Award to George T. Whitesides, '92, President and CEO of Virgin Galactic.

(left to right) Kevin McGrath, George T. Whitesides, Charles Shapiro, Stefano Chinosi, during the 2011 Alumni Innovator's Award Ceremony


An impressive and inspiring alumnus, George T. Whitesides ’92, returned to NNHS to speak in the auditorium to over 500 students, on March 22nd at 12:30. Whitesides is now President/CEO of Virgin Galactic - innovating the way we engineer space travel. In the spirit of the new NNHS and the many great faculty and student innovations going on here, Whitesides was awarded the first ever Alumni Innovator Award. His presentation was a source of inspiration for all in attendance.

Since leaving NNHS, George was Chief of Staff at NASA and the executive director of the National Space Society. In 2010 he was appointed CEO and President of VIRGIN GALACTIC. Virgin Galactic, like Virgin Mobile and Virgin Atlantic, is one of Richard Branson's companies. It describes itself as an airline offering suborbital spaceflights. Branson appointed George as President/CEO in 2011.

George's father is Malenkrodt Professor of Chemistry at Harvard, and prolific author on nanotechnology. His mother is equally prolific, as well as a great supporter of Newton North. Her recent book on learning to read Arabic makes it seem like child's play.