Independent study program encourages seniors to take risk, challenge themselves.
Last week, Crossroads 12th graders participated in the School’s Senior Project Presentation Day, the culmination of a three-week period during which the soon-to-be graduates were tasked with discovering, exploring and delving deeper into both longtime passions and new interests.
This yearly tradition gives students the opportunity to celebrate the joys of learning outside a traditional classroom setting. Students are encouraged to investigate, plan and execute a project of their choice, while working independently or in small groups. Projects range from artistic endeavors such as writing and publishing a book of poetry to technological pursuits such as designing, engineering and fabricating a prototype.
In preparation for the Presentation Day, students wrote and rehearsed their 10-15 minute demonstrations and created video and slideshow content to document their experiences. On May 24, seniors presented their projects to peers, teachers and family members in classrooms, auditoriums and lecture halls across the 21st Street Campus. Seniors discussed their inspiration and processes as well as their challenges and lessons learned.
“For me, the design engineering process has nothing to do with how much you succeed, but how well you fail. If you fail, and you fail again, you’re doing something right,” said Kayal Bhatia of his Creating Cartamen project. “At every single step in this process, something went wrong, but I’m so glad it did because that’s what the design engineering process is. It doesn’t have to do with the code or the circuitry—it’s how you take a setback and how you handle it.”
In another hands-on project, Kofi Graves built his own mellotron after researching the history of early electronic music. He used the self-made device to cut and record his own electronic song, which he shared with a rapt audience.
Scarlett Chen produced a 13-minute documentary detailing her experience learning to play basketball and soccer, while examining the systemic challenges that female athletes face at all levels of sport. She interviewed female athletes at Crossroads, who encouraged other young women to pursue their athletic goals.
After taking a course in Swift at Crossroads, Siddarth Ganapathy used his coding knowledge to develop and program three iOS apps with the goal of creating accessible and engaging resources to learn classical languages. The apps included a language parser, a cartamen quiz platform and a Wordle-style vocabulary game entirely in Latin and Greek. His goal is to one day publish the apps to the App Store.
Elia Smith learned the basics of hand-drawn animation and created a short film comprising over 200 hand-drawn frames. Her process included developing a narrative and storyboard, constructing each hand-drawn frame and editing them against background music that brought her illustrations to life. The finished work paid homage to positive memories from her high school experience.
Ben Kamer built a rocket-powered Go-Kart by disassembling an existing inoperable kart and repairing the brakes, accelerator, ignition and battery management system. He then constructed a rocket mount, performed engine testing and 3D printed the engine’s fuel source before firing it up in his driveway.
Emma Raff staged a murder crime scene on campus to teach the concepts of forensic science. She wrote, directed and acted in a performance that walked audience members through the process of analyzing a crime scene, interviewing suspects and conducting DNA testing, before completing the scientific analysis process and ultimately revealing her conclusions—and the murderer!