Team Through My WindowLook at engineering education through a new window.

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What’s in a name?

Nov 5, 2013 | By: Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh

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Shakespeare’s famous quote “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” comes to mind as I begin this blog.  Even today these words mean that names are not defining—that someone’s or something’s name is not as important as someone or something itself.  But sometimes names are important.  Since we at Team Through My Window have received many questions about our project name, we thought this a great time to explain how it came about and how it defines our project.  

Change is Good

Through My Window is our second project name.  Originally, our project name was Talk to Me—just like the young adult novel at its core.  But as the scope of the project expanded and the vision for the project was refined, we felt we needed something new.  (You could even say we looked at our project through a new window.)  It was difficult to come up with a name that encompassed everything we wanted to say, and hours of discussion within the team ran the gamut of possibilities.  In the end, though, we stayed true to our work and chose a phrase that was playful—a phrase representing our emphasis on imagination.  

New names can be tricky.  A recent WSJ article about Sean Combs described Combs’ regret at numerous name changes over his career.  Combs himself—aka Diddy, Puffy, Puff, and Puff Daddy—called those changes a ‘branding mistake”.  In contrast, our new name was genuinely motivated and enthusiastically embraced.  That’s because Through My Window is not and never was a branding strategy.  It is a mission statement.  It's a commitment.  It’s a pledge to create an imaginative space where children and young teens encounter engineering in a brand new way.  

Tell Us a Story

As I touched upon in my first blog, this project applies innovative approaches to learning about engineering that are emerging from the learning sciences.  One of these key ideas is the use of Imaginative Education, in which developmentally appropriate narrative is designed to engage learners’ imaginations and help them structure what they learn in meaningful ways.  Story is critical to our project, and engaging learners’ imagination in their pursuit of deep understanding is the very basis of our instructional design.  

Our name reflects something new and pioneering and is unexpected in the context of typical STEM offerings.  It's uncharacteristic for an engineering education project because it doesn’t include typical educational buzzwords or catchy yet predictable plays on STEM words.  It’s deliberately thought-provoking.  It’s unique because our project is unique.

Through My Window is a name reflective of our vision of learning in general and engineering education in particular.  It is meant to be emotional, to tap those unfettered, creative learning experiences that filled our childhoods when we were allowed to be children—those that linger with age and for which we wish as adults—those that we desire for our children and students.  Through My Window is an expression that symbolizes shifts in perspective, limitless potential, and a panorama of possibility.  By its very nature, it is engaging—it inspires and begs good story and deep thinking.  It is also an invitation, a request for action.  We want you—we need you—to look through a new window.

We hope you like our name.  More importantly, we hope you like what it means and what it represents. Remember that windows are reciprocal—we look in and out of them.  We want your views, too.  Tell us a story about a meaningful learning experience that you or your students have had.  Tell us a story about how you feel when you create a truly imaginative space for young learners.  Tell us what the words “through my window” mean to you.  

And look at engineering education through a new window. 

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1223868 and 1223460.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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