Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School students celebrated the culmination of their year-long Tower Project capstone projects during Tower Week. Tower Projects are student-centered, teacher-nurtured, school-supported experiential learning opportunities in the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades. They are a way for students to pursue their own interests and take their learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom to solve real-world issues through an interdisciplinary, community-based approach.
Students in each division work on developing, researching, and creating their Tower Projects for an entire academic year or longer. They meet with teachers, members of the USM community, mentors, and local experts who help them define and refine their topic, conduct research, create presentations, and stay on track throughout the duration of the project.
As a result of their work, students gain academic skills such as research, writing (both academic and reflective), critical thinking, analysis and synthesis, and project creation. They also gain confidence and abilities in public speaking, problem solving, time management, relationship building, risk taking, and more, all in a supportive and encouraging environment.
The projects varied amongst students and divisions, and were held in locations throughout the school during Tower Week.
Presenting on topics of their interest on Monday, April 15, students prepared and gave 15 to 20 minute speeches, with an additional 15 to 20 minutes allotted for a question-and-answer session from faculty, staff, parents, and student attendees.
For their Tower Projects, Upper School students work independently on a year-long project of personal passion. The endeavor involves defining and refining a subject, connecting with both in-school and outside mentors, keeping a public record of progress, defending research and conclusions, and ultimately delivering a Tower Talk to the USM community. Students apply for their Tower Projects in the spring of their junior year, and receive a year-long academic credit for their efforts.
Middle School Tower Project students also showcased their projects to visiting faculty, staff, and parents in the Middle School commons on Monday, April 15. New this year, students worked on their project for the entire academic year, as opposed to one semester like in previous years. They utilized written elevator speeches and unique demonstrations to bring their work to life. Projects ranged from designing and creating an environmentally friendly golf ball and developing DIY hockey training tools to designing and prototyping an airplane, and much more.
Lower School students present their projects to parents, faculty, and special guests on the evening of Wednesday, April 17. The 4th graders spent the entire academic year working on projects of their own choosing, ranging from black holes and the history of flight to origami, the history of hip hop dance, penguins, and more. Presentations will include a slideshow of information about their chosen topics, discussion of an action item each student developed in relation to their project, and reflection of skills learned and developed as a result of their work. Photos from the Lower School students’ presentations will be added on Thursday, April 18.
for more information on USM’s Tower Projects, and congratulations to all of the participants, who have invested a great deal of time, effort, and passion in their projects.