Yearlong projects reach half way mark

February 4, 2017 — by Alexandra Li and Roland Shen

MAP students reach the half-way point in their yearlong projects. 

Redemption. That was the word that came to mind last semester when Media Arts Program seniors Nathan Ching, Emily Li and Mathis Picard started brainstorming for their short film project spanning the course of the whole year.

Through their film, the group had wanted to capture the privilege of second chances and bring awareness to the detrimental effects of alcohol on high schoolers. In order to do so, they decided to create a fictional film centered on Oliver, a teenage boy that “all [high schoolers] can find a part of [themselves] in.” The film project touches upon Oliver’s chance at redemption after his involvement in a drunk driving incident that kills his friend.

Since August, current MAP seniors have been given the year-long task of producing and editing a 10-minute feature film. This annual MAP senior project was designed by former MAP teacher Tony Palma with the aim to draw out creativity from the seniors and give them an opportunity to showcase the skills they have learned in the program.

“MAP has always focused on projects that span a few months, sometimes only a matter of weeks or days,” Ching said. “Being able to tackle a year-long project sets high expectations, but I really enjoy having the opportunity to be able to perfect a single film.”

While the seniors worked on the script during first semester, most students, including senior Zach Grob-Lipkis’ group, have moved on to the next stage of production. Grob-Lipkis and the rest of his team, consisting of seniors Seena Ghafouri, Max Vo and Suraj Mididaddi, are producing a film about two high school seniors who decide to attend a party after getting rejected from their top college choices.

While developing a concise script with a serious tone proved difficult for Grob-Lipkis, his group now faces the challenging task of setting up scenes for the party, which involves many actors from the drama department, elaborate lighting set-ups and complicated blocking.

Other classes

Aside from MAP, other classes on campus have also been implementing year-long projects. In her AP Biology class, Cheryl Lenz assigns each student to grow and nurture starting in August.

To help students visualize the concept of artificial selection, or the breeding of plants to produce desirable traits, Lenz began this project five years ago when she started teaching AP Biology.

“We talk a lot about artificial selection in lectures, but it’s different for students to actually see it in place,” Lenz said. “This experiment also gives students the opportunity to practice statistical tests over the generations of the plants.”

Even though the process of growing and tending to a plant for a year seems extensive, this project allows students to witness something that they could have otherwise only read about.

“The project has shaped my understanding of biology by showing me just how much variation can exist in a species,” senior Keshav Narayan said. “Having a year to track the plants is really beneficial because we get to actually see the process behind artificial selection.”

in her Engineering Design and Development class, the final addition to the Project Lead the Way program, teacher Audrey Warmuth also chose to incorporate a year-long project. Using concepts seniors learned in the previous three engineering courses, students are asked to invent an object that could potentially solve a real-life problem.

Senior Neythra Srinivasan, whose group also includes seniors Kainoa Giomi, Rajat Vora, Puja Maheshwari and Katherine Chin, found that environmental issues are some of the biggest problems that impact society today. To reduce the danger in manually cleaning gutters, the group settled on building an automatic gutter cleaner using galvanized steel and plastic.

Srinivasan prefers having a large-scale project rather than weekly assignments, since the project allows her to plan over a longer period of time, giving her an opportunity to experiment through trial and error and try different ways to implement her ideas.

“It has taught me how much work is really required in making a project, and I hope to better understand how the process of engineering and design takes place in a collaborative setting,” Srinivasan said.

Because year-long projects have proven to be enjoyable and academically enriching for students, more and more teachers have chosen to incorporate such assignments so that students can apply their learning outside of a traditional classroom setting.

“Having year-round projects is such a valuable experience,” Narayan said. “I think it’s one of the best ways to fully understand an otherwise abstract concept.”

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