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Instilling an entrepreneurial mind-set in high schoolers

Obama to speak at high school partaking in ASU innovation program.
ASU Innovation through Design Thinking program teaches entrepreneurial mind-set.
January 13, 2016

Obama visiting one of eight schools using ASU program that teaches students how to creatively solve problems in community

Just two days after his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama will make his first trip as president to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he will speak Thursday morning at McKinley High School.

McKinley High is one of eight schools across the nation partaking in the Innovation through Design Thinking (iDT) program, a product of Arizona State University’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation that trains teachers to embed entrepreneurial thinking in their classrooms.

Katherine Clemens, manager of K-12 initiatives for the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, helped develop the program to meet the growing need for more entrepreneurial and STEM-based curricula at the high school level, and especially among underrepresented communities.

“For students to be successful in the jobs of the future, for students to be able to solve the challenges of the future, it is critical that they have an innovative mind-set,” said Clemens. “To do this, we need to teach students how to think entrepreneurially and how to use an innovative design process, which is essential to the creative problem-solving process.”

In the iDT program, all of that is tied to real-world problem-solving in the students’ own communities, where they collaborate with local businesses to find solutions through the development of a mobile app — a process that is beneficial to both the students and the businesses.

“The feedback from the businesses has been great,” said Clemens, who often travels around the country to check in on the different schools, assess what’s working and make changes where necessary.

“They have so much enthusiasm about being connected to education and the students because they feel value in the fact that they’re teaching the students a lot. The students have enjoyed learning about small businesses and nonprofits because many have their own entrepreneurial ideas, and one of the goals of the program is to teach them how to make their ideas a reality, to show them what the day-to-day of that looks like, what the process looks like, and why it’s important to support local businesses.

“As well, the students are able to apply their knowledge and skills in a meaningful way that shows them how they can contribute to their community, and [the local businesses] are able to get an outside perspective, which is great.”

A woman poses for a photo in a classroom.

Katherine Clemens, manager
of K-12 initiatives for ASU's Office
of Entrepreneurship and Innovation,
said the students and the teachers
training them in app development
have found the whole iDT process

One of the projects students at McKinley are working on is in collaboration with Knock Knock Children's Museum, a brand-new museum that will open this year down the street from the high school. Through the iDT program, students were trained in app development, marketing and business strategy to develop an app to schedule tours; provide directions and museum times; send push notifications for museum events; provide a museum map locator to let patrons know where they are in the museum; and offer a how-to-get-to-another-museum feature.

Clemens reports that both the students and the teachers who are training them in app development have found the whole process empowering.

“Overall, the teachers are very excited about it,” she said. “They have a lot of freedom to guide their students through the project to determine what will work best in their classroom. And the students are excited that they get to take on a leadership role, meeting directly with business owners.”

What’s more, many of the teachers who have participated in the program are eager to share what they’ve learned about teaching app development with other teachers in their schools, sometimes planning professional development courses to show other teachers how to do what they learned and serve the overall purpose of helping students develop an entrepreneurial mind-set.

“Entrepreneurial skills and design thinking are key to preparing high school students to thrive in an innovation economy,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, ASU's senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development. “Using the train-the-trainer model as part of the Innovation through Design Thinking, ASU is empowering educators and their students to create solutions for challenges within their own communities.”

In iDT’s first year, it reached 12 teachers and 350 students. In its second year, those numbers have jumped to 24 teachers and more than 600 students. The Verizon Foundation has been a major player in helping to implement the program, awarding more than $1.2 million in grant funds to ASU since iDT’s launch in 2014.

According to Clemens, the program is a great example of how ASU is involved in embedding and advancing entrepreneurship in schools in underserved communities across the country and providing students a pathway to college.

“ASU is really creating a new higher-education experience that has a focus on entrepreneurship, social embeddedness and real-world problem-solving, so part of this project is to help share the knowledge and skills that we’ve developed to showcase ASU’s expertise in this area,” said Clemens.

On a larger scale, the iDT program is also poised to aid in showcasing the educational excellence of the U.S. as a country — one which President Obama passionately asserted in his address Tuesday is “the most powerful nation on Earth. Period.”

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Is it a fake, or not? ASU Art Museum examines painting in new exhibit.
Would a museum create an exhibit around a fake painting? Find out at ASU.
January 15, 2016

ASU Art Museum exhibit centered on painting's authenticity, and the culture that surrounds it

The first thing that caught the attention of Nathan Newman was the texture of the paint.

It just didn’t seem to match the mixtures used by artists during the early 1900s, when artist Frederic Remington painted “The Pioneer and the Indian,” depicting a frontiersman and Native American cautiously crossing paths.

There was also suspicion from art scholars and Remington experts questioning the authenticity of the painting at the ASU Art Museum. So Newman had to test it, and found the smoking gun.

“Titanium white paint was commonly used after 1919, and ‘The Pioneer and the Indian’ was painted after Remington’s death in 1909. This painting is an almost exact copy of [Remington’s] ‘The Parley’ whose unquestionable provenance dates securely back to its sale from Remington himself,” said Newman, a professor in ASU’s School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.

“After testing, using scientific techniques, the conclusion is fairly clear — it’s a fake.”

That painting, pictured above, is the centerpiece of a new exhibition called “Superflex: Superfake/The Parley” hosted by Arizona State University’s Art Museum in Tempe.

Taking the form of an experimental laboratory, the exhibition features new images, video and sculptural works by the Danish artist collective SUPERFLEX, which was founded in 1993 by Jakob Fenger, Rasmus Nielsen and Bjorn Christiansen.

“A lot of Swedes moved to the United States in the late 1800s, and so we have our own reference on how the Old West was represented,” said Christiansen, who flew in from Copenhagen, Denmark, for the preparation and opening of the exhibition on Jan. 9. “We don’t necessarily want to go into the history of this artist, but are very interested in the social impact Remington had as a storyteller and artist within the American genre.”

The commissioned project, presented in collaboration with professors Newman and Terry Alford in the Fulton School of Engineering and ASU’s LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science, takes the painting from the ASU Art Museum’s founding Oliver B. James collection, which was attributed to Remington, a famous American Western painter, illustrator, sculptor and writer. It is used as a starting point to examine issues of authenticity, reproduction and value systems — including the emotional value of an artwork.

The process to authenticate the artwork included research methods based on three main factors: the paper trail from the artist to the owner, the opinions of experts and scientific evidence.

The paper trail started with Oliver B. James, a Phoenix attorney who bought the painting from the Chicago J.W. Young gallery around 1936. James donated the piece, known to him as “The Pioneer and the Indian,” as well as several paintings by American artists to the university in the early 1950s. The collection, which was valued at $125,000 at the time, is today worth well into the millions.

A painting of the same scene titled “The Parley” can be found at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Patrons, art aficionados and curators who had seen the painting in Texas and the ASU Art Museum painting were quick to report their opinions to museum officials through written correspondence, which the exhibition also has on display.

It wasn’t as if Remington was an unknown commodity. He became a well-known artist in the mid-1880s when he began rendering Western illustrations for “Harper’s Weekly” and many other widely read New York magazines. His illustrations were highly detailed and brought visual information to the Eastern states about the colorful Old West — a bit ironic, given the nature of this exhibition.

“Art historical experts have questioned the authenticity of the ASU painting based on stylistic elements. We felt this collaboration was a good opportunity to look for physical and scientific evidence to support its authenticity (or lack thereof),” said Dana Mossman Tepper, ASU Art Museum’s chief conservator. “This blend of art and science is also a different way to engage the public about our museum and the work we do here.” 

The museum recently completed construction of its new art conservation studio and is eager to undertake projects that take advantage of this new capacity.

For testing, they turned to Newman and Alford in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, who conducted key research to determine how the painting was constructed and the pigment content of the paint.

“Over the years our department has developed certain techniques, including infrared imaging and a particle-induced X-ray emission spectrometer, which allows us to look at sketching underneath the painting as well as identify the pigments present in the paint,” Newman said.

In addition to the presence of titanium white in the painting, Newman said infrared photography revealed a black charcoal sketch underneath. Newman said Remington did use charcoal under drawings, but more so in the beginning of his painting career, which began in 1889 — not so much by 1903. “The Parley,” Newman noted, was painted just six years before Remington’s death.

Case solved. And if life was like the Old West in Remington’s paintings, Newman might have blown the smoke off the barrel.

“We had a lot of fun with this project and hope to do more of this type work in the future.”


"Superflex: Superfake/The Parley"

What: Exhibit examining the authenticity of a Frederic Remington painting.

When: Through April 30.

Where: ASU Art Museum, 51 E. 10th St., Tempe.

Cost: Free.

More info: Go here for more details or call 480-965-2787.