Some students simply fall in love, be it in math or history or computer science.
Others get so excited about a tidbit of something or other that comes up in class they find themselves pulled to deeper study.
In either case, an Independent Study Project may well be the answer.
ISP, as its called, has a long history at Brunswick and has become more vigorous over the last five years as faculty have added new dimensions and rigor to the pursuit of independent-study projects.
“This is for students who are ready for more than what our traditional curriculum offers,” said Peter Arthmire, Upper School academic dean and coordinator of ISP. “They focus on one thing that they like and really drill down.”
Each April, between 10-12 students propose Independent Study Projects and go through a rigorous review by the Curriculum Committee before getting the go-ahead for a semester or year-long study on a topic of their choice.
Students then work with a faculty sponsor, usually meeting two days out of seven to discuss their progress. At the end of the year, students present their project in a 10-minute talk followed by questions and answers. They share what went well and what didn’t.
“What’s unique is there’s a sounding board,” said Arthmire. “There is one-to-one communication, which is just wonderful for learning.”
Here’s a sampling of recent ISPs.
Will Maynard ’19 became an expert in the ecology and management of black bears. Will McLaren ’20 and Eric Meindl ’20 did a feasibility study of solar technology at Brunswick School. Nick Wolanske ’20 studied Russian. Nicky Winegardner ’20 worked with theater teacher Seth Potter on an independent project titled “Absurdist Theater: Art Reflecting Life.” In 2020-21 Oliver McGovern ’21 explored architecture in design in 3D using VR; Josh Paul ’21 studied environmental impacts on Native Americans; and Tommy Fouts ’21 created a prototype of a digital armband that translates American sign language.