In their final trimester as BASIS Independent Silicon Valley students, after seniors have emerged from a deep dive into university-level, content-heavy capstone courses and completed the demanding college application process, they participate in their Senior Project—a high-level research project centered around a question or topic of their choosing. Some of our students are already a year in to the two year commitment that is the Senior Research Project. 

What are Senior Projects and Senior Research Projects?
There are two different ways that seniors may participate in research. The Senior Project is the culmination of the BASIS Curriculum, and the final challenge our seniors face at the end of their academic journeys—the crown jewel of their high school experience and culmination of everything they have learned throughout their time at BASIS Independent Schools. Senior Projects started with the BASIS Curriculum Schools' network very first senior class, in the spring of 2005. This program, at its core, is an entirely student-led (though professionally supervised) independent research project. The Senior Research Project is two years in the making. Students take AP Seminar as juniors, and then tackle AP Research as seniors. They have an additional layer of oversight in their projects as they must submit their findings to the College Board for a score.

Senior Projects in the time of COVID-19
2020 has certainly tested many industries and professions, with the field of education being no exception. Students, teachers and administrators had to make an unexpected pivot in March as California, and much of the world, locked down. Caught in the middle of all of this were our seniors who had elected to participate in Senior Projects or Senior Research Projects. Many of them were to begin internships that involved hundreds of hours of in-person research or hands-on work with mentors with whom they had been building professional relationships.

How does research continue during a shut down? Some of you have followed along with the Senior Project and Senior Research Project blogs, and if you haven't - they are a great read. One of the requirements of these projects are weekly blog posts. These blog posts detail the student's experiences, schedules and work on the projects, as well as necessary adjustments made due to COVID-19. We often find that research doesn't always go according to plan, and this year was one for the books in that department.

As is typical of our Bobcats, these students persevered and continued putting in the work regardless of the obstacles encountered during this unprecedented time. Some projectors had more hurdles than others to overcome, but our seniors continued working, even if that meant adjusting their research plans, or perhaps having to scrap certain aspects of the project entirely. To learn more about the students' research, please see the 2020 Senior Project and Senior Research Project Program. From the Program, you can link to each student's final presentation video.

One way that this year's Senior Projects and Senior Research Projects look quite different, is that our students all presented virtually. A silver lining of this format, is that we are able to share the Senior Project and Senior Research Project Showcase. The students were arranged in small groups, and each took a turn showing their final presentations, and then answering questions from their peers. There are ten separate sessions on varying topics:

  • Machine Learning
  • Environmental Design
  • Accessibility and Design
  • Tech and Society
  • Education
  • Wealth and Poverty
  • Health Policy & Science I
  • Health Policy & Science II
  • Computational Sciences and Astronomy
  • Politics of the Cold War and Secret Empires

Senior Project Samples







Read below to hear what our Senior Project Coordinators had to say about this year's seniors.

Mr. Christian Brady
Dean of Upper School, Grades 10 - 12 | Senior Project Coordinator

"The senior project is the crowning achievement of any BASIS Independent student’s career. It gives a student a chance to do a deep dive into a subject of interest with guidance from both an internal BISV advisor and an external advisor in the field. The subjects of the student’s projects this year range from textual analysis of Marvel movies as a way of looking at Bush-era foreign policy, to lab research into ancient Chinese herbs to fight tomorrow’s plagues, just to give you an overview of the wide range of experiences of our students. I hope that you enjoy watching them grow to fruition as much as I have."

Mr. Bryan Meyerowitz
History Subject Expert Teacher | Master Teacher

"Our ingenuity has guided us through public health emergencies. Plato composed Socratic dialogues during the Athenian Plague; Shakespeare wrote King Lear during an outbreak of the Black Death; and Jenner popularized the idea of vaccines during a smallpox surge. Throughout history, heroic individuals have uplifted their communities in their most challenging moments by expanding the limits of the arts, letters, and sciences. We have reached such a moment in our own time; around the world, writers, artists, musicians, doctors, and other “essential” workers have helped navigate the rest of us through our crisis. The same must be said of our researchers, who are often hidden in labs and libraries, seeking to answer some of the great riddles of our time."

"BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is proud to introduce six students who have crafted some exceptional research projects in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did our AP Research students develop complex and ambitious inquiries this year, but many of them adeptly transformed their projects when labs and schools were shuttered in March. It has been my distinct honor to learn from a group of student researchers this year whose work addresses vital questions in the sciences, in education, in economics, and in popular culture."

We know that you will be as impressed and proud as we were, and will join us in offering congratulations to the class of 2020!

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BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a grades 5-12 private middle and high school based in San Jose, California, providing students an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum. Join our interest list by clicking here to receive admissions updates for fall 2021 and more.