WISE at the Half-way Point at Rockland Country Day

WISE at Rockland Country Day School is a little bit different from that at most other schools. For one, ALL seniors participate in WISE, no matter how many AP’s they have or how involved (and most of them are heavily involved) in the spring musical. Projects each year range from heavy-duty research papers or projects to full-scale internships, from serious career exploration to once-in-a-lifetime chances to do something really outside-of-the-box. Some reflect long-held interests and are a continuation of work already in progress. Others change – once…twice…even three times — during the course of the WISE spring.

This year’s projects are no different. They reflect the very diverse interests of a small but very diverse senior class. But they are united in being, as are all WISE projects, the products of a process of serious self-examination, of full-fledged collaboration with their teachers and their WISE mentors and with each other at every step through the WISE process.

Like all WISE schools, RCDS has a carefully thought-out schedule for the program, one that has been vetted and adjusted over the years.

This year’s process began as follows:

Over the fall, seniors explored their options, tried out various ideas and selected their mentor.

In January, each senior submitted a written proposal that included the following:

  • Title of project
  • Essential Question
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Motivation for project
  • Location of project
  • Detailed Activities for project
  • Way these activities will lead to fulfilling goals/objectives and answering essential question
  • Reason for choosing specific mentor
  • Skills required for project
  • Skills to be developed through project
  • Hoped-for changed from completing project

Then in February, each had to come up with a timeline for their project, from that time to the end of the year.

WISE Coordinator Jocelyn Feuerstein with WISE senior, Aymee

The end of March was Mini-WISE time.. Over the course of one day, each senior made a 15-minute presentation of what he or she had done so far on the project with five minutes set aside for questions at the end. The audience: the project’s mentor and three other adults, WISE coordinator Jocelyn Feuerstein and Co-Coordinator Amanda Bomann, and Academic Dean Jeremy Freitas. Mini-WISE serves a dual purpose. It’s a checkpoint for projects, ensuring that everything is on track and that if assistance, or life support, is needed, it can be given in time. More importantly it gives students the opportunity to try out their presentation skills in front of a helpful adult audience — and warm up for the main gig at the end of the year.

Tuesday, March 28, was Mini-WISE day and the presentations went off famously. Most of the students were well in command of their projects and relished the opportunity both to show what they had achieved at this point and also to get suggestions on how they might proceed for the duration of the project.  Some were excited that they had come so far in so short a time and had exceeded their own expectations. Some, very honestly, expressed surprise and disappointment that they were not as much on track as they had hoped to be and were grateful for the opportunity to see that and make the necessary adjustments. A few realized that major adjustments were in order. One duo that had been working together decided to split up and go their own separate ways, changing to completely different topics but topics, in both cases, that related to their own specific career interests. And many found themselves in an in-between state where they had made some progress, but not, they realized, enough and found guidance from the session to steer them in the direction in which they needed to proceed.

We will have a detailed account of several projects in a later post, but here is a list of the projects as they currently exist:

Frida A: Video Montage of RCDS as a Family

Aymee B: Creation of a prototype for a stroke stopper

Eliyana B: Creation of a comic book, artwork AND writing

Skyler C: Exploration of the impact of a ‘growth mindset’ on art and engineering through specific STEAM projects

Kellen F: Exploration of the impact of diet and exercise on physical fitness/wellbeing

Kristy G:  Working with young children in different cultures: teaching songs to pre-schoolers: an American song to a Chinese child; a Chinese song to American Pre-K

Grace H: Writing a novella

Danny H: A study of Modern Sea Sovereignty as influenced by the United States and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Baiyang K – Developing the Kong Campus – designing a green campus for RCDS

Yiming L: Women in the ACG (Anime, Comics, Games) World – an examination of the relationship between media and Japanese culture and history in its depiction of women with the creation of a video to illustrate this.

Evan M: Journey to the Sky – developing a strong understanding of flight and working towards a pilot’s license

Jazmine M: Forensic Psychology—creation of a forensic crime scene

Abbie PZ: Writing original music and songs for The Optimist and mounting a production with a cast of her peers

Coby P: Developing a Productive Mindset Through Running, the impact of training for a long distance race

Mike W: Research project on the development of electronic devices, past, present and future

Logan W: Music Production —
 Jazz and EDM, creating an original piece of jazz and dance music using software and other technology

Horace W and Sung Min H: partnership involved in learning Cantonese and Chinese characters

Oscar X: Professional sports management, research and internship

Fei X: Researching business models for Uber and AirB&B

Josh Y: The invention process – taking an invention from initial onset, producing and patenting it

We’ll keep you posted about these projects as they develop, going into more detail on several of them in later updates.

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