Capstone Project Work Day

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SWBAT describe the functions of the nervous system and complete a self assessment.

Big Idea

In this lesson students will continue to develop their capstone projects in order to demonstrate their understanding of the nervous system.


This lesson is part two of a three day activity in which students explore a topic of their choice in order to display their understanding of how the nervous system functions.  Completing a project of their choice provides students with an opportunity to be creative and focus in on an aspect of the nervous system that is of interest to them. 

In the first lesson - Beginning the Capstone Project - The students are introduced to the guidelines for the project.  As part of this introduction, they brainstorm possible projects and create a timeline for project completion.

In this lesson, the students will review their progress on the project and they will spend time sharing their project with classmates in order to receive constructive feedback.

In the final lesson - Capstone Project Presentation - The students present their projects to the class and then field questions regarding how they completed the project and what they learned through the process of completing the project.

The following standards are addressed by this set of lessons:

NGSS SP6 as students are able to choose from a variety of options in order to:

Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s) and/or describe(s) phenomena.

Construct an explanation using models or representations.

Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to construct, revise and/or use an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events.

NGSS MS-LS1-8 as the students create a project of their choice to demonstrate their understanding of how the senses respond to stimuli and send messages to the brain for behavior or storage as memories.

CCSS SL.8.5 as students use visuals and models to share information with the class.  

NGSS SP8 is also addressed as the students communicate their information.


5 minutes

As students enter the room, they take out their Chromebooks and respond to the prompts:

Where are you on your project?  What do you have left to do?

The purpose of this prompt is to require students to reflect upon where they are in completing their project and emphasizes the parts of the project that still need to be addressed. I encourage the students to look at the timeline they created on the first day of the project to help them evaluate their progress.  This prompt is also useful in helping partners determine how close they are to project completion because each student responds to the prompt on their own, without consulting their partner. Once the journals have been written, the students are encouraged to share their prompt with their partner, if they have one, to focus in on the parts of the project that need to be completed. While the students write, I circulate through the room, prompting the students to be as specific as possible and asking them to describe their project. This provides me with a better understanding of how the projects are progressing and also gives me a chance to guide distracted students back toward the aim of the project.

Students can share their responses to this prompt aloud, but I have found that since the prompt is more personal in nature it is more beneficial for me to read through the prompts with the individual students and then to move directly into the work day.


5 minutes

I explain to the students that they will spend this class period working on their project and that part of the time needs to be spent completing an Update Worksheet.  I review the project update sheet with the students and explain its requirements as well as the purpose for the questions.  In this Nervous system project video I explain how I use this update worksheet in class as well as my expectations for the class period.

I specifically spend time reviewing the I wonder... and I think... portions of the worksheet. For this part of the worksheet the students will find a partner and discuss their project in order to receive feedback.  I explain that the students should use the "I wonder..." portion to ask questions about the project or to make suggestions. For example, a student could write, "I wonder how the project would turn out if you performed the experiment on more people." Similarly, the "I think..." section is where I ask students to provide a compliment or point out an aspect of the project they particularly like. Since the students are receiving peer feedback in order to improve their project, I try to steer students to be as specific as possible, in order to provide their classmates with quality feedback to draw from.

I also explain the expectations for the last portion of the update sheet, where students are asked to assess their project based on what they have completed so far. The purpose of this portion of the worksheet is to help students see exactly where they are in their work and to provide them with a better understanding of what their grade will be if they do not finish their work. I found that adding this section to the update sheet helped students focus more on getting their work done and it provided me with something to refer back to if students had questions about their final grade, as I was able to discuss their work completion habits with them.


25 minutes

After reviewing the update sheet with the students, I have them find their partner and begin working. As the students work, I circulate through the room, asking them questions and facilitating the completion of their update sheets. Some of the students have difficulty with the APA citation section, so I refer them back to previous class activities in which citations were discussed. I also remind them that flipped notes should be cited as YouTube videos. Having the students create their citations for the update sheet ensures that they remember to include the citations in their final project.

During this time I also help to facilitate the interactions between partner sets for the I wonder and I think portion of the worksheet. I have the students begin this activity by first explaining their project idea to the other students and sharing what has been completed so far. The students listening have the opportunity to ask questions in order to better understand the purpose of the project. Then the two groups switch roles, as the second group explains their project. The students take some time to think about the information presented and then write their feedback on the other group's paper. While facilitating these discussions, I emphasize the importance of providing helpful feedback that is specific enough to be meaningful.

Once students are finished providing feedback, I ask them to think about the feedback they were given and to examine their project to see if they want to make adjustments or changes based on the feedback they were given.  

While students are working on the rubric portion of the worksheet, I remind them to be honest with themselves and that this is the time to look at their work with a critical eye, so they can have a true perspective of how well their project meets the requirements.  In this student work sample, the student has acknowledged that there is still a lot that needs to be done on the project and if that work is not finished, the project grade will be very low.

Once the students have completed the update sheet, they begin working on their projects.  As they work on their projects, they are addressing multiple NGSS Cross Cutting Concepts and Scientific Practices, and these will vary based on the projects the students choose.  For instance, some students complete experiments while other write research papers.  The guidelines for the project require the students to address NGSS MS-LS1-8 as they explain how the nervous system functions, specifically how sensory information travels to and is processed by the brain.

Wrap up

5 minutes

At the end of class I ask students to focus in on the information they had written on the last part of their project update sheet.  Since the sheet was completed at the beginning of class, I ask them to check off or make adjustments to the scores for anything that they were able to complete in class.  Once they have done that, I ask them to look at their agenda and write down the dates/times when they will work on what they have left of the project.  While I know that not all of the students will work on their project at that given time, it does help create a reminder for them and the practice of writing down the information helps them to practice time management techniques.