In order for Camellia Waldorf School 8th grade students to graduate and move onto the high school of their choice, they must complete five demanding graduation requirements that test their core capacities of critical thinking, social and emotional awareness, and practical hands-on abilities. One of these requirements is the "8th Grade Project".
At Camellia, each 8th grade student embarks upon their year-long independent study at the end of the 7th grade, when they choose a topic of special interest. Upon approval by their class teacher, students pursue an in-depth study of the topic, with ongoing guidance from an expert mentor. Students are invited to select a theme that really calls to them and has the potential to lay the groundwork for a lifelong passion. The three primary elements of the project involve gaining knowledge, learning a new skill, and creating a tangible final product. Along the way, students strengthen planning and research skills, cultivate stamina, and experience bringing a self-initiated project to completion.
The 8th grade project includes a journal of the experience, a research paper, a tangible project and a Powerpoint presentation given in front of an audience of their peers, teachers and families. Through this project, students learn the importance of planning ahead, tracking due dates, all of which sharpen their executive functioning—all skills that are starting to blossom in the 8th grade child. Many aspects of the project are created to be challenging, which leads to students developing faculties. The completion of this project results in growth and achievement in many areas, leaving them with confidence, grit and readiness for high school.
Former Camellia students look back on their projects with great pride and excitement. Examples of past projects include: the building of a go-cart, making a conga-drum, training a service dog, building a robot, glass bead making and blowing, writing and publishing a book, starting a non-profit, macro photography, stop motion animation, welding, composing music, sports broadcasting, vernal pools, building a catapult, designing a computer game and more!