Three Rivers students are the experts for a night
An eighth grader at Three Rivers Charter School barricaded herself with a movable, makeshift wall for about four hours during school. While mimicking a person in solitary confinement, she was not allowed to interact with other people, though she could still hear the teachers and complete her schoolwork.
The student was conducting a field study for her independent project (IP) — projects students spend months working on that use different core subjects — to examine the ethics, or lack thereof, behind solitary confinement and what has been allowed legally for punishment.
"It's fun when the kids get creative about their own field study and you're like, 'How did you come up with that?'" said Three Rivers educator Megan Elston.
IP night, which is open to the community, is an end-of-the-year event where students showcase a project they have been working on since spring break. The projects incorporate writing, literature, math, science, social studies and art. While students can choose their topic, fourth graders have to pick an animal and fifth graders have to pick a noun to research. In sixth grade, students have more freedom.
"I think it's an opportunity for every student, whether they're in fourth grade or eighth grade, to showcase their unique growth through this year," said educator Mackenzie Staheli. "The ultimate goal is that it (the projects) connects to a real world issue or current event or at least something that has gotten us to where society is today."
Eighth grader Mabel Knapick, who has done previous research projects that included topics about peacocks, the British monarchy and Japanese education, decided to do this year's project on British cuisine.
Knapick's grandfather is British and claims British food is better than American food.
Knapick, who traveled to England over spring break and tried it for herself said, "It's actually better than American food."
Knapick's project will include a research paper about British food, a brochure for a made-up Indian restaurant in England, a science analysis where she studied diseases found in English food and food-borne illnesses, a photo book of British food she compiled during her travels, and a watercolor painting of an English breakfast, among other components.
"I was a little nervous the first couple years because I didn't know what it was like, but as I did more projects, I got a lot more excited about presenting them and sharing everything I learned to the public," Knapick said.
Sixth grader Henry Myers, who transfered to Three Rivers this school year, did his first project on physical therapy.
He created a newspaper from the future and wrote articles related to physical therapy. His project also included an alphabet book where every letter relates to physical therapy, wrote an extensive research essay examining all types of physical therapy and created a pull toy — which he said he's most proud of — that shows what muscle is in use when the arm moves in different motions.
"I think that was a really cool idea because most things that I've seen from other people are just something that you can take and put on a board, but then with the pull toy, you
can set it on the table and people can actually see how it works."
Three Rivers administrator Nic Chapin, who is new to the school year, is looking forward to seeing all the students show their work.
"I'm excited for the students who have done it and are taking on new topics, and then I'm excited too for the kids who have never done it," Chapin said.
"It's a really productive way to end the year," Elston said. "The kids are invested until the last day of school. It's because they're proud of the work they're doing. It's not just filler activities, they have a real goal to achieve."
For Elston, one of the best things about IP Night is seeing alumni return to check out the projects. She said last year, there were about 20 to 30 alumni who came to the event.
"I think a lot of times in the past, our school has presented somewhat as a mystery to people outside the walls, and it's a great window into the kind of learning that students do here as one option for learning in our community," Staheli said.
"It's also one of the rare times that any student in West Linn and Wilsonville gets to really speak to their own learning to a large audience, and I think anytime that you can highlight students' accomplishments, no matter what the learning was that took place, that it's worthy of celebration."
If you go
What: IP Night
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11
Where: Three Rivers Charter School, 2565 S.W. Ek Road, West Linn