On Friday, April 28, Eastwood Academy engineering seniors applied what they have learned in-class, presenting capstone projects to guest judges and industry partners. The Senior Capstone is the culminating project completed by all senior Engineers during the final year of the pathway. Students will have spent the previous year and a half completing smaller scale projects, to prepare them for the level of workload and research needed to complete the Capstone.
Seniors are asked, during the spring semester, to come up with an idea for a project such as identifying a real-world problem in the industry, community, or the school and developing innovative solutions for the problem. The student is responsible for researching the problem including the history, impact on the world/community, and the attempts at resolution thus far. Students propose their ideas and topics to Ms. Conflitti, the Engineering teacher, and she consults with students individually or in groups to determine the validity of the project and whether it meets the expectations of rigor for the pathway.
The student is then asked to develop a prototype to respond to the problem in their own unique way. Prototypes can consist of actual physical models, items created from scrap materials, refurbished objects, or simply a well-developed typed proposal. The joys of innovation are left entirely up to the student. Once a prototype is developed, the student and teacher consult once more to work out how the prototype needs to be re-engineered to meet the needs of the project solution. At this point in the semester, Ms. Conflitti schedules makerspace hours for students to come in and work on their capstone projects. These hours are usually scheduled after school and on Saturday afternoons. The students present their final projects to an audience consisting of industry partners, district administrators, and campus administration. Other teachers on campus are also encouraged to bring in their classes of underclassmen to observe the level of quality of presentations. In total, Engineering students have approximately 3 months from start to finish to work on their capstones.
Eastwood Academy’s Principal, Brandi Lira, had this to say:
Eastwood Academy’s educational philosophy is founded on the belief that schools must address the whole student rather than simply meeting minimum standards on exams. Eastwood is committed to fostering an ability to produce and disseminate information, to hold dialogue in ways that are reflective of our 21st Century opportunities, and to thrive in college and a career in this ever-changing global society. Allowing our students to take part in Capstone Projects affords them the opportunity to master the content through exploration and real world experiences. Students use critical thinking skills, synthesize information to formulate responses, and provide concrete experiential evidence to support these responses. Capstone Projects are aligned with the demands of the complex environments our students will enter once their leave our classrooms. At Eastwood, we ensure our students are ready for that setting.
You can check out some of the inventive and unique Engineering capstone projects below: