Engineering a marshmallow-shooting turret that is controlled by a cellphone, or an autonomous remote-controlled car, or re-creating the giant pendulum from Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Pit and the Pendulum” to mathematically determine the protagonist’s fate – these are not the projects of the average American high school curriculum.
On Thursday, Animas High School students demonstrated that through the freedom provided by their project-based curriculum, they can take their education to new heights. Students showcased their semester-long (and, in some cases, yearlong) efforts at the All School Exhibition.
Rooms of the school overflowed into the halls with projects, each creatively presented through myriad diverse mediums: from a micro-museum representing the oral history of the Animas Valley, to creating optical illusions for understanding the biology of optics, to a board game teaching natural selection.
Kurt Pattison’s advanced engineering class – made up of seniors Cole Elliott and Evan Roth and sophomores Taylor Schermer and Kian Edmondson – studied the phenomenon called the Wagon Wheel Effect and applied it to a project called “Operation Flowing Water.”
They fabricated a machine to create an optical illusion of water droplets defying gravity. The effect was created by flashing strobe LED lights through a steady stream of dripping water, effectively giving the appearance of the water dripping upward, Elliott said. Students had to essentially “fabricate” the machine from scratch – even the control circuit, which took six months to complete, Pattison said.
Each of his students worked together and completed their projects in correlation with what is relevant to their individual academic journey.
Joe Thomson used a computer program to understand the basics of wave construction. Janey Rusk mathematically pulled apart specific wave frequencies. And Jem van Tyn constructed a machine that served to visually represent the notes in a musical chord.
Animas High School’s Senior Exhibition, to be held Tuesday, will feature exhibitions such as a drone designed for disaster relief, a ski-inspired clothing brand and a humanitarian effort to bring musical instruments to a Third World classroom.