Project Based Learning
Projects are at the core of our curriculum because projects are at the core of peoples' lives. We remodel our homes, create new management models, track the spread of diseases, and design websites. All of these efforts take planning, persistence, imagination, collaboration, and other complex skills. Meridian's projects deliberately cultivate these skills to prepare our students for college and beyond. Our projects come in many forms, but they all have common characteristics:
1. Questions posed or modified by the students;
2. Student-driven research or problem-solving;
3. Analysis, synthesis, and creativity.
See below for examples of past Meridian projects.
Faces of Egleston Square: An Ethnographic Study
After a trimester studying urban inequality, Division 4 Humanities students undertook an ethnography project on lives of people in Egleston Square, where Meridian is based. Each student identified a member of the community with whom they wanted to work. For the next several weeks, students communicated with their subjects, scheduled observations, and took extensive field notes. Each student wrote an article about what they observed, striving to recognize their role as outside observers. Finally, students read each other's work, identified common themes between the articles, and wrote research papers on how these themes affect our own community and those across the country.
Cortez's Conquest of Mexico: A Telenovela
Having spent the trimester exploring different aspects of Aztec culture and history as expressed through various types of literature and art, students in Spanish Advanced Middle School decided to also study the phenomenon of the telenovela, which, with hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, have come to make up a significant part of Mexican daily life today. After learning about the history and influence of these television programs via articles, interviews, and examples, students also looked into the mechanics of creating a telenovela: script writing, plot elements, character development, story-boarding, and filming techniques. Finally, combining what they learned about the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs with what they learned about telenovelas, students wrote, designed, produced, and acted in their own telenovela. Exploring themes of power, loyalty, betrayal, and new beginnings, the plot parallels the story of Cortés and Moctezuma, but through a contemporary lens.
Language Comprehension: A SHEWASSA
SHEWASSA stands for a Simple Human Experiment With a Strong Statistical Analysis. Students learn about experimental design for psychology and biology research and about descriptive and inferential statistical measures that make the analysis of experimental data possible. Then, students apply these understandings to guide the creation of an experiment that answers an original research question about human behavior or physiology. The project shared here was inspired by a ninth grader’s love of math, language, and their intersection in linguistics. She designed an experiment to better understand how people with different linguistic abilities learn a new language.
"What parenting strategies have the greatest influence on childhood development in under-resourced environments?": A Junior Year Research Project
Meridian students undertake their longest and most in-depth project in 11th grade. Working closely with an advisor, they carry out an original year-long research project on an academic question of their choosing. Students' responses to these questions take a variety of forms, including laboratory experiments, documentary films, literary analyses, research papers, comic books, and works of art. Learn more about JRPS here. Below, you can listen to Kenny's final project. He interviewed leaders and participants in local parenting programs and produced an original podcast about their work.
Ferdinand the Bull: An Original Musical Puppet Show
In Division 2, students complete a year-long interdisciplinary art class that is taught collaboratively by the art, music, and creative writing teachers. Through this class, students use a children's book as their inspiration, and then work with their teachers to develop an original script, music, puppets, and scenery. This gives each student an introduction to the various arts before they enter high school, allowing them to make more well-rounded decisions regarding their art selections. For the first year of this project, students adapted "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf into an original musical puppet show. Listen to some of the original music below.