Eighth grade students see their final year of middle school as a pivotal year in their educational career—and life—due to the Capstone project. Designed to be a hallmark of Woodland School, Capstone provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in research and action regarding issues of global significance. They step outside their comfort zone and the boundaries of standard curriculum in a yearlong research project, service learning trip abroad, and action piece. Students flourish as they direct their own learning and realize their potential to be changemakers.
To complete the project, each student chooses a topic, conducts independent research, interviews experts, produces a paper, presents his or her findings to the community, and launches an action piece to create impact in the area of study. This year’s areas of research have included global warming and climate change, the effect of smog on humans, and domestic violence in India, to name just a few.
To complement their Capstone project, students travel abroad to participate in an immersive global service learning trip. They work alongside local residents to help create sustainable solutions to issues facing the local community.
After returning from their trip, students leverage the experience abroad when brainstorming action pieces to the global issues they researched. “Students funnel the inspiration of their trip into a design thinking process in order to find an action piece that connects their issues back to the community,” says Humanities Teacher Marissa Klein. “Many students find the action piece to be the most rewarding part of the process, as they become the experts who share information and also help advance a solution.”
As student Jonathan stated, “Don’t just use your knowledge to do nothing. Make yourself useful and use your knowledge to help the world.” In order to help the world, students must first step out into it and with the Woodland Capstone year, students do just that.