Black River students learning new hands-on skills through Project Term

HOLLAND — Students at Black River Public School are closing out the school year by catching fish, designing and printing race cars, taking on new art projects and learning to cook over open flame.

The school’s annual Project Term gives students the opportunity to explore new subjects and skills, or build upon existing ones. This year marked a return to the typical Project Term format, with students choosing which classes they were interested in from those pitched by staff members.

Last year’s Project Term was condensed to a two-week session to close the school year. Instead of students signing up for projects, each BR teacher incorporated Project Term into the normal daily schedule.

Students in grades 4-12 were able to choose from a catalog of course options for four sessions from May 17 to June 10. For students in first, second and third grade, Project Term lasts for two weeks, with students having two hour-long classes each day.

A group of Black River Elementary students display their completed alphabet photography pieces.

“By the end of the year, everybody’s ready to kind of take a break. This is just a fun way of continuing learning through project-based classes,” said Kerrie Esmeier, resource teacher and marketing consultant at Black River. “They get to choose what they want to explore. Sometimes they’re extending what they normally do, sometimes they’ll do something they’ve never done before.”

Course options spanned a wide array of interests.

High school students had the option of an open flame cooking class, where students learned cooking skills, food safety and fire safety. One course taught middle school students an introduction to design software in which they designed, and 3-D printed, cars to race and show.

An open flame cooking course during Project Term teaches Black River students cooking skills, food safety and fire safety.

Those interested in some sort of physical activities had options including a rock climbing course, skateboarding, beach volleyball and pickleball.

Students could take part in various art classes as well, including a bioart class where high school students explore the relationship of science and art, an alphabet photography class where students took pictures of everyday objects representing letters to spell out words and a pottery painting class where students customize pre-made pottery.

Art created by Black River High School students in the bioart Project Term course.

“We partner with Paint a Pot. I go and get the pieces from them and bring them here,” teacher Nicole Sinclair said. “They have a different project every day. I take them back to Paint a Pot and they get glazed and fired and so forth. They don’t get to see them again until the open house. I bring them back and arrange them in a pottery gallery.”

Students also had options for academically focused classes, including creative writing, history courses and an advanced math course where 8th-graders could earn high school math credit.

Students from Black River show off 3D printed cars they designed in a Project Term class.

Additional elementary options included a “farm-tastic learning” course where students visited farms and had some goats visit the classroom, a course teaching students about cultures in other countries and a book to film course where students analyzed differences between books and their interpretation Hollywoods.

An open house to showcase Project Term learning and projects will be held Thursday, June 9.

— Contact reporter Mitchell Boatman at Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.

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