Purdue University’s Agile Strategy Lab is partnering with novelist Noah Knox Marshall to create a set of curricular resources to help middle school-age students learn the deep skills of collaboration needed to address complex technical and social challenges.
Marshall is the author of the Dax Zander: Sea Patrol anthology, a nine-book series that begins with 13-year-old, Dax Zander as a brash, reckless thrillseeker with a remarkable capacity for science. The series follows Dax’s transformation from a carefree, impulsive adolescent to a wise, compassionate and courageous hero. Along the way he encounters beings and places both awesome and terrifying – and eventually bears the fate of three worlds upon his shoulders.
The Purdue Agile Strategy Lab conducts research related to the science of collaboration and agile approaches to strategy, then translates that research into tools and frameworks to help people do complex work. Their approaches are being used by over 70 universities as well as corporations, nonprofits, and municipalities from 47 U.S. states and two dozen foreign countries.
Marshall and the Lab are collaborating to develop a set of learning resources customized for middle schoolers to spark interest in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and to give students a framework to work in collaborative teams to design solutions to complex problems.
“We are thrilled to be working with Mr. Marshall, designing a game to help students learn how to collaborate with one another in a STEM context. Simply telling students to work together isn’t enough, we need to show them how to work together, giving them a discipline to follow. This game, set in the Dax Zander universe, will do just that,” says Scott Hutcheson, PhD, Associate Director of the Lab and a faculty member in Purdue’s School of Engineering Technology. Hutcheson continues, “We have other curricular resources in mind as well that tap into the multiple disciplines touched on in the books, from a technology and engineering perspective as well as the social sciences.”
Marshall writes, “During my research for the ‘Dax Zander’ books, I dreamed of inspiring young people – in America and beyond – to encounter and embrace the mysteries, tools and enlightening fuel of math and the sciences in a new and empowering way. So, I’m honored and elated in the confidence extended by the leadership of the Agile Strategy Lab at Purdue University. That purposeful minds of this caliber and expertise would offer to develop educational and socially constructive exercises based upon my books is not merely a dream come true, it enriches the potential that this generation of children might reach all the more for the stars – and finally grasp them.”
The game is called Ubuntu: Do More Together. “Ubuntu,” a word found in several cultures in Southern Africa, refers to a philosophy that there is a universal bond of sharing that connects all of humanity. This notion of designing innovative solutions by connecting the assets each member of a group is willing to share, is a common thread found in both the Dax Zander books and the Agile Strategy Lab’s work.
“We work with a growing network of universities and each of those universities has its own network of K-12 educators and administrators in the regions they serve. That’s one of the ways we can scale the adoption of these materials,” Hutcheson explains.
The publication date for the first novel is not yet set but materials are being developed now so that a launch can coincide with the publication calendar. Educators and others interested in learning more can contact the Lab by visiting www.agilestrategylab.org.
More About Noah Knox Marshall
Under a different name, Noah Knox Marshall has been writing live-action and animated features in Hollywood for 15 years. “Dax Zander: Sea Patrol” evolved out of a pitch for TV Animation. He has a great affection for science-fiction, space exploration and marine science, three realms that blend seamlessly in his forthcoming books. Noah lives adjacent to the ocean in Los Angeles, and enjoys a walk on the shore almost every day.