This summer I took students to Boston for two weeks, sent them home, and then spent another two weeks visiting friends and family around the country.

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7/21🚌 Musashino → Narita.🏨 東横イン成田空港 新館
7/22✈ Narita → Dallas → Boston.🏢 Tufts University
7/23We opened with an ice-breaker where students all join hands and try to unscramble themselves. A tweak I'd never seen before is to require that left hands go with right hands. Adding this extra rule makes each team talk a little more before starting to untangle themselves. For another speaking warm-up, we split students into three lines. The line on the left had a message to say to the line on the right, and the line in the middle spoke and yelled to disrupt communication. In the afternoon we went for a tour of MIT and continued with group projects students started last month. The process we're using is called design thinking, which is similar to the "twenty-four steps" method of product development.
7/24In the morning we went to Harvard University. The tour was fairly generic — there's lots of history, but the guide didn't know it, and the campus looks a lot like any other university campus. Still, it was cool to see where my grandfather and great grandfather went for their PhDs. In the afternoon we did group work. Students are working on a big problem-solving project, and today they did an analysis using the nested theory framework.
7/25The creator of PoolText, Ali Furkan Akin, gave a talk about his career and how he formed his start-up. He had a good job in Turkey, left it to get an MBA from MIT, worked for Sprint, and then made a new company with several of his friends. It was pretty exciting to hear him tell the story. In the afternoon we went to Greentown Labs, an environmentally-focused incubator. Their work was cool to me, but our students don't know much about start-up businesses or technical environmental problems, so I don't they learned very much.
7/26Students made empathy maps for their projects. There are many tools in the Ideation process they're using, and empathy maps are one way to focus on the target persona for the thing they're making. I took a group of students to a burrito shop, but sadly the quality was kinda meh. They told me that horchata tastes like yatsuhashi, a famous Kyoto sweet.
7/27The creator of room2learn came and spoke with us in the morning. She started the website and company in order to help teachers and architects work together to build classrooms that fit the kinds of lessons they want to teach. Later, students worked on their projects and wrote a user story. On another note, the dining hall here at Tufts University is expensive but has decent food. The vegetable and salad selection is quite nice. This is quite different from my experiences in Japan, where it's remarkably hard to find vegetables when you're eating out.
7/28Students spent most of today working on their projects. In the afternoon we started making prototypes and writing pitches. It's in the 90s, and indoor work is ideal.
7/29Students gave midterm presentations today. The key points were empathy, expression, passion, message, and English. For practice we did a rotation where each group presented to five different teachers separately, so that they got five chances to speak and five different reactions and recommendations. In the afternoon students started to consider financing and channels for their products.
7/30In the afternoon we took the train to the Boston Commons and hit up Fanueil Hall for lunch. Tasty lobster — I waited all week for it. After that we went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
7/31In the morning students did interview work at Harvard University. I took a few students to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. Solid American Chinese food.
8/1We went to the MIT Museum and played with Lego robotics in the morning. I haven't done mobile robotics since college and these Lego kits look like a great way for students to get a toe into the water. Students are nervous about their upcoming presentations, and there is some conflict within many of the teams as students try to align their personal and team goals.
8/2Students spent the day preparing for tomorrow's sales pitches. I took a nap in the afternoon. Last night I moved the mattress from the bed frame to the floor and my back felt much better.
8/3Today our students gave their final presentation, a sales pitch for their product. it went better than I expected because the topics they have her very open-ended and that means it's easy for the students to feel like their project is lacking depth even though they have considered it carefully. one notable thing is that when they finish their presentations we had a young man who owns several companies, he was one of the judges and he asked a lot of difficult questions — for example, regarding the funding model or attracting users — and most of the groups were able to answer most of the questions to some degree, which is quite challenging. entrepreneurship is not what I teach and it's not my area of expertise but it was cool to see the final results of this two-week summer study abroad trip.
8/4We got up at three in the morning to go to the airport. The students and other teachers fly back to Japan today. I went with them to the airport and fell asleep on the airport bench after they saved goodbye and cleared security. Later I dropped off my bags at the airport hotel and headed out to see the city. My first stop was Belle Isle Marsh, a quiet place to take a nap. In the afternoon I saw the Blue Man Show, a music and performing arts act. It would be neat to bring the students here next year.🏨 Hilton Boston Logan Airport
8/5✈ Boston → Minneapolis → Grand Forks.🏠 5571 Charlie Ray Drive.
8/6My parents built a new house last year. It has thick walls with tons of insulation and was designed to be highly energy efficient. As best we know, it's the only house in Grand Forks that has solar panels at all, which surprised me. Perhaps the upfront costs plus worries about winter snow have scared off everyone else? The yard is a giant prairie flower garden.
8/7Betsy and Dex help run adventure races in the summer. We went up to a hiking trail near the Pembina Gorge to clean up trail markers from the most recent race. It was a half day walking through creeks and following game trails, with great scenery and few mosquitoes.
8/8We went canoeing on the Red Lake River in the afternoon. North Dakota has very nice summers. It gets hot, but that's offset by the breeze and the dryness. I like being outside.
8/9Betsy and I went for a bicycle ride in Turtle River State Park. It's a beautiful little park that I went to a lot back in elementary school.
8/10✈ Grand Forks → Minneapolis → Seattle.🏠 Kirkland
8/11We got a late start. Marjorie, Zoe, and I headed out to a campground near Mt. Rainier.⛺ Ohanapecosh Campground
8/12The weather was good. We did a short day hike in the morning and a longer day hike in the afternoon. The wildflowers are still in season up here in Rainier National Park.⛺ Seaquest State Park
8/13We drove into Mt. St. Helens National Forest. There are several excellent visitor centers, but the mountains are where it's at. I went on a seven-mile hike to Spirit Lake with nice views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood.🏨AirBnB Portland
8/14We hit up the OMSI in the morning and met with Toby for lunch. Portland is a nice city for walking around, and we did.
8/15We went to Powell's bookstore in the morning. I don't buy paper books for myself, but my school can always use a few extra novels for returnee students.🏠 Kirkland
8/16Doing an escape room was a first for me, and it was pretty exciting. In the afternoon we went to Living Computers, a museum with all sorts of old computers and video games, many of which are mostly functional. We played Oregon Trail and looked at punch card readers.
8/17Marjorie took me to Nash's house and on the way we stopped at Taco Bell. in the evening Nash and I went over to Matt and Diana's and we had dinner together.
8/18Jez and her husband Matt picked me up. We headed over to West Seattle and walked on the beach and had a seafood lunch. In the evening, Nash and I went to see a movie. It was really nice to spend time with relatives and friends that I haven't seen in a long time on my last day in the US.
✈ Seattle → Narita.