Capstone: An Intellectual Enterprise - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Capstone: An Intellectual Enterprise

Posted on May 13, 2017

by Dr. Edna Hussey on May 13, 2017

A capstone project or presentation is usually a culminating intellectual or academic experience typically for students in high school or middle school. Students select a topic or investigate a community problem (local, national, or global), conduct extensive research including interviews or site visits, then prepare a presentation and write a paper on their research. At Mid-Pacific, our fifth graders have been preparing capstone projects for 13 years, not including about 5 Epiphany years. The capstone engages our students (10- and 11-year-olds) in an independent inquiry and encourages each student to demonstrate their understanding of the inquiry process, which they have experienced since preschool. 44 students, working alone or in small groups, impressed their parents and families with their research at the early evening event on Friday, May 12.


While the presentations themselves are noteworthy and thought provoking, the learning emphasis is on four areas of this intellectual experience: finding a topic of personal interest and passion, framing the question(s), reading resources (including interviews) with a critical eye, and synthesizing findings that will be communicated to different audiences. Most importantly, this intellectual enterprise has a strong social component, that is, students discuss their research with others and receive feedback from others long before anything becomes a presentation.


Teachers Pam Jenkins and Sarah McKay introduced the capstone project idea in October, and over the past 7 months integrated reading, writing, speaking, and technology skills in the curriculum as it related to studentsʻ inquiries, and provided opportunities for an exchange of ideas with the high school MPX students.

A sample of the studentsʻ presentation titles:

• Food lunch waste at Mid-Pacific

• Radiation Horror

• Your Sugary Nemesis

• Fight for Womenʻs Rights

• The Importance of Sleep

• Living on Mars

• Trash Talk: Ocean Edition

Our fifth graders will be joining several middle school and high school students in special certificate programs and Mid-Pacific Exploratory (project-based learning) on May 22, 5:30-8:00pm, for an evening of presentations of learning in Hoʻokupu 2017. (See details in the Owl Update.) Youʻll be able to see the range of learners involved in inquiry and project-based learning schoolwide! I hope to see you at Hoʻokpupu on Monday, May 22.

E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!

For our Fifth Graders,

Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.