An app that tracks your reading progress, specialized sports mouth guards, robots, tools to improve piano playing, make swimmers stronger, protect K-9 dogs from bullets. These were just a handful of the innovative and creative solutions to real-world problems created by the 8th grade class at All Saints Catholic School.
For the last four years, All Saints 8th grade students have been learning and applying the engineering design process sometimes referred to as STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics). Students have explored topics/issues which have expanded their intellectual curiosity beyond the classroom walls and given them experience in learning critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication, both written (journal) plus oral (presentations) in addition to a new nonfiction method of gathering research evidence through close reading.
At the start of their final school year, all 8th grade students were required to develop a Capstone ED project. The Capstone Engineering Design Project (CEDP) is an individual student selected, research-based solution to an identified real-world problem.The Capstone Project provides students with opportunities to hone the skills and methods necessary for research projects of a larger scope in high school and, later, in college. It allows students to tap into their talents and interests as a mean of expression as well as a demonstration of academic achievement.
On May 6, 7 and 8 each member of the Class of 2019 showcased their individual engineering design project history by presenting their results to teachers of the high schools which they will attend next year. The teachers acted as judges and the top students in each of the two section blocks will earn scholarships for high school next year. The Capstone presentation showcased the student’s abilities in reading, writing, public speaking, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, planning, collaboration and implementation, self-discipline, problem solving, and organizational skills. The goal of the Capstone is to get students to participate in and demonstrate a new area of learning and growth.
The intent of the Capstone is to encourage and motivate the students to engage in a project that has direct applicability to pre-high school 21st century skill preparation and possible STEM career goals and aspirations. Most importantly, the Capstone should represent an area of STEM focus that they are passionate about and will have FUN doing!
In his final reflection paper, 8th grader Luis Brea remarked that, “making my Capstone project was the most enlightening experience in my entire middle school career. My Capstone journey was filled with twists and unexpected epiphanies, all teaching me various lessons that will resonate with me as I matriculate into high school and beyond.”