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The Spartan Review

The Student News Site of Athens Academy

The Spartan Review

The Student News Site of Athens Academy

The Spartan Review

Photo Credit: Mr. McCleary
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A Positive Prospect for Projects

Will McCleary during one of his projects
Will McCleary during one of his projects

Many Athens Academy Students had projects as an alternative to the infamous exams in some classes as the semester ended on December 15th. Some students such as tenth-grader Luke Kelly feel that projects are a nice substitute for exams.

 

 Luke says that projects replace “hours spent just studying for a short exam over many possible topics with time spent on a project that you have control over and can manage.” 

 

Projects allow students to efficiently apply their knowledge from the year to a project, without wasting excessive hours studying topics that may be excluded from the exam. “Projects give students flexible opportunities to show their knowledge if they aren’t as good at test taking,” says Spanish teacher Profe Watson. 

 

Students who struggle with time during an exam can spend as much time as they want to perfect their projects in the one or two-week time frame given for project completion. 

 

Last year in December 2022 the ninth-grade geometry students broke into pairs and taught a topic in forty-five minutes such as trapezoids on rhombuses. Students created follow-along notes and a slide presentation to define what their shape was and how to find the area of it. This project allowed students to master their unit such as trapezoids and be able to answer questions about how to find interior angles of one. Additionally, they were able to prove that two trapezoids are congruent using mathematical laws. 

 

This project was also a very efficient use of class time because students watching in the class learned about the various presented topics that were tested on later in January. Teaching presentations incorporate the practical skills of confidence and clarity in public speaking that are relevant in life and school. 

 

Last spring the Ninth Grade Biology class completed a partner research project about declines of a specific species in an ecosystem. Charlie Walton and I were tasked with finding if orcas were responsible for the decline in Aleutian Island sea lions. We sifted through two hundred pictures taken of Aleutian Island beaches with sea lions present. These pictures were taken automatically each day for a year by several camouflage cameras on the Aleutian Island beaches. 

 

Although it was tedious, we interpreted our data and sent it to the organization to help in conservation efforts. This project was a full scientific research project that replicates what many biologists do in their jobs. We also interpreted our data, finding that orcas probably were not the cause for the decline, and applied our knowledge of predator-prey relationships to highlight that orcas could feed on sea lions when they are feeding out at sea. We then reviewed and made a new hypothesis that sea lions could be migrating to mainland Alaska because of food shortages and cold winters. 

 

The findings that refuted our hypothesis of the Orcas being responsible for the decline in Sea Lions made us adapt and think about other possibilities. Completing this research project required detailed daily journals and observations of our findings. This required us to think critically when our original hypothesis was proven incorrect, which couldn’t be done within an hour-and-a-half exam. 

 

Supplementing projects allows students to creatively implement their knowledge into a poster or other forms of design to share with others. Projects help test speaking skills as presentations or teaching units require students to thoroughly explain their topic to others. Projects aren’t just a stress relief but also provide key skills that are missed in the regular exam.

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Will McCleary, Guest Writer

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