Atlantis Symposium Features Independent Research
James H. Vernon students gave families and staff plenty of food for thought when they presented their independent study projects during the Winter Atlantis Symposium. The Atlantis program challenges the curiosity of eligible 4th, 5th and 6th graders through various enrichment activities that extend beyond the classroom curriculum.
This year’s event began with the program’s 6th graders “cooking up” a lighthearted skit about the ingredients that went into developing their independent study project, jokingly stirring in a large amount of “procrastination.” All joking aside, the symposium offered an array of well-crafted projects that challenged students to think at a higher level.
Participants made their way around the gym where students showcased original game boards, Power Point presentations, models, artifacts, posters and brochures all to support their research. Projects ranged from “How have paleontologists’ understanding about the “Smilodon” develop over time?” to “Why is it so hard for society to break free from plastics?”
Fifth-grader Will Nobel made a model entirely out of different forms of plastic called “Tanya the Tern and her baby Max” to illustrate society’s use of plastic on the environment. Among his extensive research, Will developed booklets of various plastic items, described how they are used in society, the dangers they pose, and how many of these items are embedded in our environment. He then challenged participants to find those items on the model.
Kyle Bosch, a 6th grader who is interested in architecture, investigated the question, “How can I create innovative future projections for resilient designs based on current architectural trends?” He developed a brochure and Power Point presentation outlining possible building challenges and solutions.
“The independent study projects are a way for students to explore their interests further and express their imagination in a creative way,” said Atlantis teacher Ms. Joanne Loring. “Along with building knowledge about interest areas, students develop research and project skills, and create original projects for real audiences.”
Each grade is presented with a different goal, according to Ms. Loring. The fourth-grade focus is on learning the steps of the independent process. The fifth-grade goal is to “think like experts.” They learn how to create a project like a professional by learning how to ask questions from an expert’s perspective and thinking about the audience an expert might have. Sixth graders are challenged to think on a higher level by developing unique, original projects aimed to make a difference for a specific audience.
“I am always amazed at the variety of topics the students choose to learn about and the depth, complexity and originality of some of their work,” Ms. Loring said. “The projects often take a lot of time, effort, and hard work, which can be very rewarding and lead to a genuine sense of accomplishment.”
The symposiums, which have been taking place in the district for several years to showcase students’ independent study projects, are generally held twice a year, once in the winter and again in the spring. Other Atlantis work is also highlighted throughout the year.
In addition to the research projects, 6th-grader Riley Baehr represented students who took the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Challenge, which invites people to write a full draft novel in one month’s time. Eleven Vernon students took the challenge. Riley’s novel, The Return of the Hopper, was the longest with over 5,000 words. Class-wide challenges such as those relating to the stock market and reciting the United State Presidents in order were also featured.