Wednesday, May 13, 2015

School Projects - Let's Peep a Good Thing Goin'

Gian Delos Santos, DVC
I have a love/hate relationship with projects--and then I get something like this, a two-foot tall diorama featuring one of my favorite subjects. I mean who doesn't love the Avengepeeps in all their gooey glory.

What do I mean when I say I have a love/hate relationship with projects? Sometimes I feel like students spend more time on their projects than on their papers, but hey, what are projects for anyway?

One thing, is to help students explore subjects from a new and different angle, to look creatively at a subject with a relatively low barrier of entry. In the case of Peep dioramas, students adapted a nation-wide Spring contest featuring the marshmallowy confections to come up with a fun way to look at the Avengers - this from a class that just finished reading Watchmen. I mean who doesn't love Bruce Peeper, the incredible Pulp, or Captain Ameripeep. Students analyze character motivation, personality, and setting to design appropriate subject peeps. How creative is this for someone that is studying architecture and literature?

Another thing projects are good for is to decompress and de-stress from the rigors of writing another 1,500-word English essay with at least four outside sources, properly cited in MLA format with enough analysis to make the instructor happy. Argh!

But most of all these things make me so darn excited when I see one coming through the door. I keep them in my various offices and every time I look at one it just makes me SMILE.

Even though many students do spend more time on their projects than on their papers they do help to reexamine a subject in a different and creative way. It also lets students (and instructors) take themselves a little less seriously and gives everybody a chance to just say "Whew."

What was your favorite project in school? Would you like to see more projects in college? What would those projects look like?

23 comments:

  1. Projects are suppose to give us a window for creativity. When we have low standards for what to expect, often times the final product comes our phenomenal. In comparison to papers, we can go outside of the box without being graded down. When we feel a need to compete, is when we get the best ideas. There is only one way to put our ambitions to the test. This is one primary reason why I support projects. I am referring to science, math, and English projects. They help you construct a whole foundation from the ground up. My favorite project was a math project I did using graphs.

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  2. While projects provide a way for students to create something creative and a new and refreshing assignment from the usual work done in classes, it is still dependent on what type of project is being assigned. It could be a very boring and typical project such as a speech which requires a whole semester of work with a completed and organized information put into a binder when a the speech date starts (My senior project in Granada Hills HS) but nevertheless there are some fun and creative projects such as my English project during my freshmen year of highschool and we had to create a some sort of creation in regards to a specific Greek god. I ended up creating a small Greek temple with 4 pillars in the corner and a picture of Athena in the middle and offerings such as jewelry. I would say more projects that relate to the topic of the class but allow creativity so the students can enjoy the assignment and allow the intelligence and creativity of a college student to flow into the project.

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  3. I think the idea of projects is great because I get to express my creativity through the project I’m creating. Another great thing about projects is that you can see what other people have done. I like seeing everyone else’s project and see how much effort they put into it to make it their best. My favorite project in school was my creation of the solar system. I designed the set up and colored the planets according to what they look like. I also made sure I got the right size of Styrofoam to show the sizes of the planets. I would like to see more stuff like this, but according to their major. For example, since I am a science major, I would like to see projects on the human body because I feel like that can help with learning the anatomical structure. The project would have to include the parts of the body along with correct labels attached to them. I hope we incorporate this soon in the classroom again.

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  4. I enjoy building a project better than having to write a paper if I was able to do projects instead of writing I would do it 20x's better than having to type a certain amount of limit of words. Its more enjoyable than having to write and worry about grammar and plagiarism. I think my favorite project was when I had to do it about volcano's because I made a volcano out of cake and piled it up with frosting coming out of the middle. I was 100% more sure of explaining my project without having to read off the paper. I feel that we should be able to have more projects like the one I previously made. It doesn't have to be about volcano's it can be about anything that the teacher may like. But just have more projects to do.

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  5. I believe projects are a really good way to keep students interested in class. Because the professors are actually giving the chance for students to be creative and think outside the box. You can also see what your other peers have done to, it's exciting to see other creative projects. I also think that students put more effort in making a project, than actually writing a paper. The reason is because when students are making a project, it's a good stress relief, they don't feel pressured or like they can get a low grade on it. My best project I have ever done was in elementary school we were learning about the missions and I had to built one with ever came to my mind. I still remember I had Mission Santa Ines. I built it out of Popsicle sticks with hot glue. It took me two days to finish, it was really entertaining and at the same time I learned about the significance of the missions. I would love to see more projects in classes even if it's a boring class like business, professors can find a way to keep students entertain.The projects can be anything as long as they keep the students hooked.

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  6. School projects are something that I have always looked forward to! Toward the end of the year, in elementary school, we would have an open house so that parents were able to see all the work their children had done throughout the year! It was my favorite time of year because teachers would assign us projects and even though my parents would have already seen mine because I worked on it at home it was still exciting. Hands on work is one of the best ways to learn and it is also more entertaining but unfortunately as we get older there is not much arts and craft projects that are assigned instead there are more presentations and papers assigned which can sometimes be overwhelming rather than engaging. One of my favorite projects was making a scrap book from different topics we learned throughout the year and although it can be said it was just a notebook with decorations it was nice to reflect back on the topic with more enthusiasm. I would definitely like to have more projects in college rather than a paper written for everything that we understand and even though essays helps us express ourselves it would not be a bad idea to switch it up. Ideas for these projects would be to have arts and crafts involved or some physical activity that can require volunteers or a scavenger hunt. Even though there is a different activity we would still be required to write down notes or our experience but not something draining to where we are stressing about it but also having fun with it. “Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.” –Mythbusters

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  7. I enjoy the construction of projects because it allows me to be creative and helps me perceive specific ideas in different angles. For example, when it comes to learning physiology and anatomy, I am better at learning visually than auditory. When I had to study all of the structures and functions of the human body, I would become overwhelmed when I would attempt to attain information given to me through words. Most of the time, I understood a concept better when there was a diagram complementing a concept. The best way I learned about physiology and anatomy was when the professor would lead us through different labs. Being able to examine animal body parts and create statues of skeleton body parts helped me understand how the human body looked and functioned more effectively. Now that I’m in college, I am barely assigned projects. I am personally a better learner when the assignment is hands on rather than writing on a piece of paper. I would strongly encourage schools to have more projects in order to help them engage with what they are learning and to develop their skills academically.

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  8. Doing projects are like getting a break from regular classwork and homework. From personal experience I do spend more time on a project than I would on regular assignments. I believe this reason is because classes barely assign projects so when they do I feel it is very important and must be close to perfect. Usually projects you are able to express your creativity which allows the project to be fun. Doing projects can help with developing many skills such as advertising, marketing and researching. Sometimes a project may include a research paper explaining the project and what different steps you took throughout the process. Even though some classes assign presentations, it’s just not the same as a hand on project. Projects help students explore what they’re interested in. This is a good system of work that can help make a class interesting instead of following the same schedule throughout a whole semester or quarter.

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  9. I love projects, I understand it is school and things/subjects have to be taken serious but projects like these can make someone learn more than with a 1,500 word page paper . personally i really enjoy making projects like these because like mentioned, it does make people things of things in a different way. They tend to be more involved, i mean who doesn't love to be creative. my favorite all time project was when i made a shoe box into an aquarium, lets keep in mind this was when i was in elementary school, i never actually had such projects in middle or high school, let alone college. i think professors use these methods (projects) in elementary schools to help students understand more but in reality the same learning process should be applied to college students, the effects are the same anyway, easier to learn. i would like to see more projects like these in the near future with college students because i feel like it brings back the kid in you and also put in work the other half of your brain that is not really used in college (creativity). I, personally think that projects like these should be used on harder subjects like math. i guess it will bring creativity from both ends of the spectrum, the teacher's creativity in making a project like this and the student to follow something like this. overall i think college teachers should suggest projects like these because it will make students open up more.

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  10. thorough school I did not get the chance to get to do many projects, but when I was assigned a project I would get extremely excited. I have always loved doing projects because I get to be creative in my class, which is something I feel students do not get to do often in core classes especially.My favorite project in school was during my sixth grade year we had to make a diagram and i made a mummy out of clay, this was my favorite project because i was able to have fun with my school work and be creative with it.I do believe that there should be more projects like this in college, due to the fact that it will help the students relax and have fun and have a little rest from the more stressful work they have to do. I believe that if the students have more fun projects then their other work will be better because they are less stressed over so much hard work because they took a little break with a fun project.i think the types of projects we should have in college should be fun diagram projects to allow students to be creative and relax a little with the work load.

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  11. It would be a great idea for college professors to assign students with creative projects which includes 3D effects. It would enable students to show their creativity skills. I remember creating a 3D DNA model back in high school in my biology class. It was challenging, but at the same time very fun. It involves a lot of patience and effort. It also serves as an advantage to many students who are stressed out due to a lot of homework, family issues, or whatever problem gets on their way. Creative projects will distract them from any issues and relax them. It would be a lot more fun if they can work with their classmates on it. They can help each other out. I really would love to have more of these in my classes.

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  12. My favorite project was way back when in middle school. I don’t remember exactly what it was for, but I remember that it was the most fun I have had on a science project in my life. No project since then has come close. We were instructed to choose a topic, come up with a hypothesis, and then test that hypothesis. I wanted to know how long it took for a newly born tadpole to grow legs. I was so surprised when the teachers allowed me to do it! I don’t remember how or where I got a tadpole, but I did. I named it Skye. While I watched and waited for its legs to come in I worked on a poster board where I recorded all of my data. When the project was complete it was to be shown in the science fair. I was so sad when it ended because I wasn’t able to keep Skye. I wish I could remember what happened to him/her, but all I can do is hope he/she lived a long happy life wherever he/she ended up.
    I would really like to see more projects in college. I feel like it would help get students back into learning. Projects present a chance to do something other than the usual term paper that is expected and boring. They wouldn’t have to be big projects, just something that gets the student thinking about the subject in a different way and allowing them to put their own take on it.

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  13. My personal favorite project in school was in third grade when our class was learning about Native American tribes across the country. Each student was assigned a tribe and I was given the Inuit tribe native to Alaska. For my project I made an igloo out of sugar cubes with a frozen river made of toothpaste. To this day, it is one of my greatest accomplishments. I do believe that there should be more projects incorporated in college curriculum. I agree with the article when it says that projects, although they take more time than Standard English essay, they force students to think in a more creative way. Creativity is important to be a well-rounded student and school projects involve using the creative side of the brain to think in a different way. I believe these projects should include an oral presentation in front of the class to build public speaking skills, killing two birds with one stone. As a college student a project that involves using online mediums would be a great way to encourage creative thinking.

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  14. My favorite school project was for health class and it was showing other students the profession I wanted to be. At first I wanted to become a Midwife and it was a blast. I agree with the article, it was very interesting finding out more information in a different angle than what you already know. On my project I was trying to be very creative by putting paint of hands (representing the baby) and figures that look like sperm and eggs as the background of my project to have a little humor but I don’t know if other students saw my point of view. That’s the best part some people can see your perspective while others may have another giving that “ooooooh” reaction. I would like to see more projects, agreeing with the article, so other students can see their creativity and hard work. It really depends on what class and what the project is about, but it will show different perspectives and ideas towards other students that know less information about that project.

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  15. I don't really like projects, personally. I an not very creative, and I usually struggle coming up with an idea, then get frustrated when I cannot execute the idea that I do come up with. I would much rather write a paper, which is in my comfort zone, than have to do a project like this one. I would not like to see more projects like this in college.

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  17. Projects are GREAT! I would definitely rather design a project then sit there and write an essay. A project is something that helps bring the imagination and creativeness out of a person. It brings the person out of the box to come up with something cool and it gives a break from the usual class assignments of writing and reading always. Writing essay’s there is so much to think about for example, grammar, punctuation or formatting and citing MLA formats. One of the projects I remember is when I made a solar system from Styrofoam and went all out to paint it and make it look real. I put so much time and effort into it to make it look perfect. Writing an essay for me is harder since it’s hard for me to express in words or continuously write about something. I’d love to see more projects in college because it makes us think in another way rather than always having to write. Projects are fun and help explore in another way.

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  18. This is a hard decision. In middle school I had to make the inside of a cell using different types of food. I used jello and fruit to make all the details and it also really helped me learn. The most creative project I have done was in my history class in high school. I decided to make a women's suffrage sash. It looked just like the ones the women wore during that time. Being an art major I get to do projects all the time, but when it comes to doing them in academic classes it honestly helps me learn the material because I think with a creative brain. If we did them in college it would probably be for an English or history class and they would be a lot of fun because as we get older we think about things differently so the projects would be out of this world.

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  19. In my high school class we had a project to go create a movie, the topic had to be centered on the school. I loved this project because My main hobby involved film and photography. Looking at college now really shows that we don't have these little side projects in class.especially if they contribute to extra credit. Having little projects is really helpful Because it really helps us DE-stress in college.Doing these little projects can help express our selves and stretch our brains out.

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  20. Writing was one of those things I hated the most, but having to write papers in college has helped me use my brain in a more creative way. Don't get me wrong, I love projects! I feel I am a very creative person, but writing has made me more creative. Writing essays compared to doing projects makes me use critical thinking and has helped me become a more adequate writer. In addition, since the line of work I plan to pursue will consist of report writing, writing papers will help me improve my vocabulary, punctuation, and grammar. Doing projects in elementary and high school was a very unique experience, but college professors should not implement them in their assignments. I feel that projects (if implemented) should count as extra credit. For example, if a professor assigns a research paper a student can make a project for extra credit showing their standpoint. This might help students feel more comfortable in writing their papers by having more clarity on how they view certain things.

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  21. My favorite project was actually one by sophomore english teacher. It was to write a poem that tells a story with an emphasis to be as creative as you can. I think I wrote mine on being a great wizard like Merlin, slaying dragons and using cool spells. English teachers don't really use poems as assignments so this was my favorite english assignment as well as my favorite project. I would like to see more projects in college because I think research papers and essays give a feeling like "this is just like high school". I think more more non-written projects, but I think creative writing projects would help as well so students don't feel as much stress when doing these projects.

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  22. I actually really like the marshmallows, and especially since they are in a project representing one of my favorite movies, it makes me like them even more. The imagination for this project was amazing, they should make another one with Guardians of the Galaxy.

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  23. My favorite project I've ever created was when I made a stop motion video of the process of transcribing DNA. It was creative and fun to do and was very educational in the process. In the end, the stop motion played smoothly but I had to use about 500 pictures which was difficult but not impossible. This was in high school so group projects were always a thing, but from just starting college I've notice that group projects don't come around as often as before. College is mostly about lectures and doing everything independently. Now that we're expected to do everything on our own, I tend to miss the fun activities and projects done with our peers. I hope over the course of the year I'll have some projects, but I would like to have more of them.

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