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Starting the Senior Project

**Handouts from class are available for download.  See files.   

 Starting the Project M. Martin 

Senior Project Overview:

February/March--research paper, conferences, fieldwork/portfolio/final product

April—Work independently to finish fieldwork, final product, portfolio

May—Senior Project Speeches in class (projects must be complete by the end of April)

May 31st: Senior Project Day (yes, it’s a Saturday)


General Requirements of the Project

Ø The Senior Project should demonstrate a culminating senior level of achievement.

Ø The Senior Project must involve a true learning stretch:

· The project involves the student doing some activity that he/she has never done before. (or) The project involves the student building on an existing knowledge base in a significant manner.

Ø The Senior Project must have a “real world” involvement.

Ø The project component of the senior project should in some way involve the student in “field work.”

Ø The Senior Project should clearly show a relevant connection between the research paper and the project.

Ø The performance-based Senior Project should show some irrefutable evidence that the performance actually occurred in front of an audience—pictures, video, signed verification from adult supervisor.

Ø A Senior Project that relies on observations of a particular activity must involve more than just one observation; the student must then DO something meaningful and significant with these observations.

Note: to Students Who Think They Are Taking the Easy Way Out:

Some students thin that it is a cinch to choose what they call the “easy project.”

“I’ll just choose something that won’t take much time or effort…just to get it done.”

Without exception, “Easy-Way-Out" students made several painful discoveries:

  • “Easy” turned out to be “Difficult”; there wasn’t much of a project to work with.
  • There was no challenge or risk; therefore, the whole experience was unsatisfying.
  • They did not feel proud of their accomplishment because there was no accomplishment!
  • They wasted their time.

1. The product must demonstrate a “learning stretch.”

A. It cannot be something you have already done.

B. You cannot use a project from another class UNLESS…you “Stretch” that assignment signify aptly past the class requirement.

Example: If you were studying robotics in science class, your project might be developing a robotic hand or arm.

2. The product requires a minimum of 15 hours.

--IF YOU ARE JOB SHADOWINGG, only one-third of your total project time can be spent in that way.

3. You must keep a log book of your daily experiences while working on the physical product.

4. The physical product should clearly show evidence of working

with a mentor at key points.

5. The mentor/expert will need to evaluate and sign a “Verification Form” that you did, in fact, spend 15 hours on your physical project.

6. You must have a product at the end. You cannot say in the log alone that you “observed policemen or nurses working.”

7. You must write a reflection which shows evidence of personal growth


Project Ideas

The following examples were chosen to demonstrate the wide range of possible topics for the Senior Project. They are not necessarily A+ work. Every project is unique. Every idea has potential to be a spectacular success or a spectacular failure. PICK A TOPIC YOU LOVE and the rest will be enjoyable.




Prove that herbal supplements are unhealthy

Run the LA Marathon


Prove that improved safety for motorcycles is needed in Ca.

Get motorcycle license, make demonstration/safety video


Prove sexual bias in the field of broadcasting

Do the daily bulletin throughout the year, make montage/documentary of experience, tour TV set


Prove that the school environment hinders learning

Make school model that is conducive to learning-focus on interior design and architectural elements


Prove that capital punishment is effective

Volunteer at Glendale Police office, create a brochure about what teenagers need to know about the law, teach to Government Class


Show the need for the integration of Eastern medical practices into Western medicinal techniques

Took 13-week Eastern physical education class (ShenRobics, Meditation, Yoga), lost weight, demonstrate new practices for judges


Prove that the music industry should be able to employ hackers to look for illegal copies of music

· Learn a new instrument, perform for judges

· Compose an original song and perform

· Use sound stage to create own professional CD


Prove that the Gold Rush was a fraud to get people to move West

Design/mold several pieces of jewelry showing the stages of production


Self-defense should be taught in school

Enroll in karate, compete in a tournament, teach gym class self-defense (video tape class)


Prove that the best way to prevent rape is through awareness

Planned and hosted pre-prom rape prevention assemblies


Persuade audience to legalize marijuana

Make presentation of the multiple uses of cannabis


Prove that the media provides unrealistic expectations of women that leads to poor body image and eating disorders

Make own prom dress, wear to prom and to final presentation, make video of process-how to make a prom dress


Prove the positive impact that “Hip Hop” has made on American Culture

Write, create and produce two “Hip Hop” shows school. Screen participants; lead rehearsals; advertise to promote show


The difficulties that Charles Lindberg faced on his trans-Atlantic flight

Enroll in flight school and obtained a pilot’s license, make video of flying experience


The sword represents the soul of the Japanese Samurai

Enroll Samurai sword-fighting class, make demonstration for judges


Influential Forces that impacted the subject matter of Van Gogh’s paintings

Create a self-portrait in Van Gogh’s style


Contrary to popular belief, the homeless are victims of circumstance

Went to different locales and conducted interviews with the homeless to find out why/how they became homeless and why these people remained homeless-made video. Organized a school canned goods drive to collect food for distribution among the homeless. Serve Thanksgiving dinner with collected food.


Cooperative learning is an important trend in current educational practices

Observe junior high class; designed lesson plans on cooperative learning and teach a cooperative learning exercise.


Mozart’s influence on music

Composed and conducted an original piece of music in Mozart’s style.


Contrary to adult bias, body art has been a valid form of self-expression since the dawn of humankind

Research tattoo parlors; research health laws related to tattoo parlors; go to 10 parlors (undercover) to check out conditions and adherence to health codes; research designs, coloring; work with an artist to design student’s own tattoo. Take findings and present to a health class.


The impact of Frank Lloyd Wright on American architecture

Enroll in drafting class, make a model in Wright’s style


The public schools are not meeting the needs of deaf students

Learn American Sign Language, teach class the alphabet, perform “The National Anthem” in sign language for the Oral Boards


How photojournalism can bias an incident

Create photographic journals showing opposite bias of the same incident (wars, prom)


Promote alternative to currents fuels

Experiment with and produce a fuel that would burn cleanly, instead of using cooking oils

Components of the Project

Eventually, you will write detailed descriptions of your project idea based on these guidelines. Look at the following requirements as you are planning and make sure your idea has ALL of the components needed for a successful project.  If one element, like the tangible product, is missing, then you don't have a project.   


Fieldwork/Product: Give a specific description of what you plan to accomplish for your Senior Project. Careers, hobbies, volunteer work...anything you are interested in learning. Choose a topic you will enjoy. Don't make this project a chore. Also describe the physical product that will result from the fieldwork. (A skill you can demonstrate, a performances, something you created…)

Learning Stretch: Describe the skill you plan to learn. How does this add to or improve what you already know about the topic? Showing growth and self-improvement is a requirement of a successful project.

Mentor: Give the name and contact information of the person who has agreed to be your mentor. If you do not yet have a mentor, list three people you plan to approach in the next week who may be willing to mentor you for the project.

Paper topic: In one sentence, give a rough thesis statement of your persuasive , informative, or compare/contrast paper topic idea. For example: In order to comabt the increasing problem of obesity in American youth, public schools should not sell unhealthy food during lunch. Be specific. Make sure you have an argument. Papers must be loosely connected to your project topic. (The paper topic given as an example could work for projects that involve education, health, fitness, sports, medicine, and many others. A loose connection.)