Fishing skills

Black River students learn new practical skills through Project Term

HOLLAND — Students at Black River Public School are wrapping up the school year catching fish, designing and printing race cars, taking on new art projects and learning to cook over an open fire.

The school’s annual project gives students the opportunity to explore new subjects and skills, or build on existing ones. This year marked a return to the typical project format, with students choosing the courses they were interested in from those offered by staff members.

Last year’s project was condensed into a two-week session to close out the school year. Instead of students signing up for projects, every BR teacher has incorporated project time into the normal daily schedule.

Students in grades 4 to 12 were able to choose from a catalog of course options for four sessions from May 17 to June 10. For first, second and third year students, the project lasts two weeks, with students having two hours of lessons each day.

A group of students from Black River Elementary display their completed alphabet photographs.

“By the end of the year, everyone is ready to take some kind of break. It’s just a fun way to keep learning through project-based lessons,” said Kerrie Esmeier, resource teacher and marketing consultant at Black River. “They can choose what they want to explore. Sometimes they extend what they normally do, sometimes they do something they’ve never done before.

The course options covered a wide range of interests.

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

An open fire cooking class for the duration of the project teaches Black River students cooking skills, food safety and fire safety.

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

Students could also participate in various art classes, including a bioart class where high school students explore the relationship between science and art, an alphabet photography class where students took pictures of everyday objects representing letters to spell words and a pottery painting class where students personalize pre-made pottery.

Art created by students of Black River High School as part of the Project Term bioart class.

“We are partners of Paint a Pot. I’ll get them the coins 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 are glazed and baked and so on. They will only see them again at the open house. I bring them back and store them in a pottery gallery.

Students also had options for academic-focused classes, including creative writing, history classes, and an advanced math class where 8th graders could earn high school math credits.

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

Additional elementary options included a “learning on the farm” course where students visited farms and showed goats in class, a course teaching students about the cultures of other countries, and a book-to-film course where students analyzed the differences between the books and their Hollywood interpretations.

An open house to showcase Project Term learning and projects will take place on Thursday, June 9.

— Contact journalist Mitchell Boatman at mboatman@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.