It is with optimism and pride that we support our seniors as they complete their final trimester as BASIS Independent Silicon Valley students. Now past the huge milestone of applying to college, our 67 seniors have so much of their education behind them, but are, in many senses, faced with one of the biggest growth experiences in their education to date: the Senior Project.
Last year, the Class of 2017 was the first to carry on the BASIS Curriculum Schools tradition of Senior Projects. To say they started the first of many years of projects to come with a bang would be an understatement: we saw students exploring the viability of a bike share program in Bengaluru, questioning the impact of American Sign Language study in helping children with cochlear implants learn English, diving deep into dark matter content, and more.
This is the first in a multi-part blog series leading up to the seniors’ presentations in May, the culmination of months of hard work. In this first post, we’re going back to basics to walk you through the importance of this “grand finale” of our academic program.
So, just what is a Senior Project anyway?
Our seniors spend the last trimester of their high school careers applying what they have learned in previous years to an independent project that explores their individual path of learning and potentially, their future course of study. Simply put, the Senior Project is the culmination of the BASIS Curriculum Schools experience. Our full PreK–12 curriculum is designed to establish and reinforce cross-disciplinary associations; it truly crystalizes with the Connections program in grades 1–3, the study of disciplinary sciences, Latin, Logic, and Economics in middle school, capstone courses and post-Advanced Placement courses that prioritize critical thinking, and it culminates with the Senior Project. An education from our program cultivates students who are highly engaged, inquisitive, and autonomous learners.
BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Senior Projects Coordinator Alyssa Belcher says, “The Senior Project is what originally drew me to working at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. Coming from a research background, I was excited about the prospect of helping high school seniors take their first steps into the world of independent research. By completing the Senior Project their senior year, students are able to get a real understanding of all the steps, and foibles, of the research process while taking advantage of the freedom to learn more about something that interests them. The flexibility of the Senior Project is appealing because it is entirely student led. They can use this opportunity to ‘try out’ a college major before committing or they use this as an opportunity to pursue one of their passions that they might not otherwise have had the chance to dive into or explore.”
How do Senior Projects work?
Senior Projects require students to conduct their research at a public or private sector institution, or enroll in a college or university's external study program. For example, students can team up with any national or international company or university of their interest—from big corporations to entrepreneurial endeavors. After identifying their internal/teacher mentor (at school) and an external mentor, they embark on a guided program of academic inquiry with limitless possibilities. This is more than just your average internship; students bring an exceptional level of expertise and a fresh perspective to the entities they engage with for their project. Our program fosters valuable real-world insight while maintaining a sense of intellectual curiosity during the research and application process. While conducting their senior project, students maintain a blog during their senior project to document and share their experience and accomplishments with the rest of the academic community.
BASIS Independent Senior Projects are a point of pride for students, parents and teachers at our schools, and one of the most distinctive aspects of the BASIS Independent academic program.
Students who complete their Senior Project demonstrate accelerated academic fortitude within an area of deep interest and gain an edge in continuing their studies at a college of their choice and beyond. Students who successfully complete a Senior Project earn a distinction of High Honors on their diploma and have the unique opportunity to present their Senior Project to the entire BISV community, including their External Advisors.
Says Ms. Belcher, “The Senior Project allows students to develop their skills in accountability, time management, organization and planning, communicating professionally in person and in writing, and conducting themselves as adults in the work place. Thoroughly developing these skills will undoubtedly help students to be successful in college and beyond.”
From Senior Projects to College Admissions
The Senior Project does not merely prepare students for college through extensive research, collaborative mentorship, and finding answers to unsolvable problems, it equips students with the means to truly stand out in the crowd.
College admissions representatives have shared how impressed they are with our Senior Projects and how few other schools in the country, if any, have a student-led research program of this caliber. It is our practice to ensure that they see the abstracts of participating students as part of their application and supplementary materials. How many graduating seniors do you know who speak confidently and competently to the effects of urbanization on mimicry of mockingbirds and how it compares to rural environments?
The Senior Project is students tackling the unknown fearlessly. It is students becoming scholars. It is students taking control of their education. It is students accessing their unlimited potential. And as a result, colleges get to witness this phenomenon that BASIS Independent Schools has carefully set up.
As we kick off our 2018 Senior Project blog series, we encourage you to follow our seniors’ blogs and help us celebrate the incredible, hard work that goes into bringing projects like these to fruition. Please have a look at their blogs and “adopt” one or two to follow to uncover what makes this journey about much more than the project itself (they are looking at their blog views and want to see them grow and would love any comments of support you could offer!).
In the coming weeks, we will highlight projects by focus and field areas and offer you a little insight into the Senior Project experience through the eyes of their advisors.
Final presentations will take place on May 22 and 23 this year, where students present their projects and months of hard work to their community.
Check out the BASIS Independent Silicon Valley YouTube playlist for a full recording of each senior’s presentation last year and subscribe below to receive the next post in your inbox.
If you or your organization is interested in getting involved in Senior Projects and working with our students, please reach out to Allyssa Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.