On Monday and Wednesday, a handful of 11th grade students shared extremely thought-provoking presentations referred to as “TED talks” during assembly blocks. Both Noah Brox and Arman Salem participate in the Independent Studies course at Friends Academy. Even the name of the class implies that the course entails rigorous independent work. Another student, Casey Rosen, shared her research with the Junior and Freshman classes regarding the anxiety levels of high school students. Inkwell’s reporters interviewed some Juniors this week about their feelings towards the class, their projects, and the TED talks.
The Independent Studies Course offers students the opportunity to delve into topics that they are really interested in and to become experts in that area. While many students recommend this class, none deny that the class is difficult. Noah Brox, who created his own pair of headphones from scratch, spent many long nights wrestling with spare parts. Noah constructed and designed the headphones out of wood, wire, and a great deal of hard work. Throughout the process there were times when Noah desperately wanted to give up, but looking back he could not be happier that he stuck with the tedious project and finished with a product that is so detailed it could be store bought. Noah said, “ I am proud of myself and the result because I know it was worth the effort. I started off believing I could never do it, so it’s a great feeling now.”
There is a large amount of time and work put into these extensive projects. When asked how he felt about the presenting part and he answered, “Presenting to the whole school seems intimidating right before, but if you’re proud of what you’ve done and know you’ve put the effort in, you are good to go.” And that is exactly what he did. Even without note cards to read, Noah did not seem uncomfortable while speaking to the audience. It is common to have some form of anxiety, especially if one is stressed at the same time. Either in a social or academic environment, it is important to think positive thoughts or hyper-focus if feeling stuck because anxiety can be a real set-back. As anxiety becomes more prominent in students with increasing pressure and difficulty of work, sometimes students forget that small things can help. Nervousness is completely normal, and taking deep breaths or accepting the feeling is the only way to cope. To students that become nervous about being in front of an audience, Noah advises, “Know that you’re up there for a reason, and that you’re capable of doing it.” These stories highlight that the Independent Studies Couth class is not only an extensive research project but also a worthwhile learning experience.
Arman Salem presented the math and physics found in specific aspects of sports. The presentation’s focus on football caught the audience’s attention. Everyone was really intrigued and engaged. Arman says that his first few project ideas were turned down for various reasons. It was not until he and Noah began discussing an ESPN Sports Science video that Noah suggested the idea of creating a project along the lines of sports. Arman skillfully used this ESPN Science video as an inspiration to create his own unique and scientific sports related video. On the matter of whether Arman was nervous before the presentation, he claims, “I was pretty nervous leading up to the presentation and the night before but once I went up on stage there was nothing else I could do at that point to change the presentation or make it better so I calmed myself down right before I went up and just went through with the presentation.” Arman is sharing very good advice: the only thing a person can do is his or her best and be confident.
Noah and Arman both encourage and recommend taking the Independent Studies course. Students who like a class that “gives much more freedom than your average science class” and allows students “to work on things that they are interested in and choose” should definitely consider this beneficial class.