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Global Experience Magnet School

Senior Capstone Project

The Senior Capstone Project requires a student to focus in-depth on a core question of his or her
choice. It plays an essential part in demonstrating that a student has met academic and global
citizenship standards. The project provides an opportunity for a student to stretch him- or herself
while analyzing information, creating new solutions, and implementing ideas.
The Senior Capstone Project begins with student reflecting on a topic of interest. The chosen
topic is then explored by way of a core question that leads the student on a path of in-depth
learning and research. Each student must organize and plan how to find answers to the question.
The student will be guided throughout the process by his or her Advisor as well as other GEMS
When the Capstone Project is completed, the student will present his or her findings as part of
the Senior Exhibition. All students have the option of pursuing an Honors Distinction for the
Capstone Project, which requires an oral defense separate from the Exhibition.
Requirements for the Senior Capstone Project are detailed on the following pages.

Topic and Question

The first step in the Senior Capstone Project is choosing a global problem or issue that interests
you. From this topic, you will develop a research question to guide your study.
Your topic should:
o Be broad to allow access to enough information, yet specific to make research reasonable
o Be interesting and somewhat familiar, while still stretching you academically and
o Be connected to a global issue that you can study when you travel abroad
o Be open-ended and fit into one of the following categories:
INQUIRY poses a question and explores in-depth implications that bring understanding
to a social, political, scientific, moral/ethical, or artistic condition.
PROBLEM SOLVING states a problem, researches its cause and effect, proposes a
solution, implements it, and evaluates its effectiveness.
o NOT involve significant expenses. No fundraising project which includes handling or
collecting money is allowed. If the project requires the collection of money, a professional
organization (e.g., the American Cancer Society) must be involved.

A 1-page written proposal must be approved by your Advisor as well as a parent or guardian.
Your proposal should:
o Articulate your topic and research question
o Explain why this is an important question or issue
o Indicate your prior learning on this topic
o Discuss how you will demonstrate significant new learning
o Identify potential textual, electronic, and human resources that may assist you
o Develop an action plan that outlines your next steps, with anticipated timeline
o Describe the global component of your topic/question/plan

Research will provide the foundation of your Senior Capstone Project. It will help you make
decisions and draw conclusions.
Your research must include:
o At least 8 credible (recent, reliable, balanced, level-appropriate) sources
o Diverse primary and secondary sources (e.g., books, magazines, journals, online databases,
newspapers, artwork, films, personal interviews, etc.)
o An annotated MLA-style bibliography. You must cite any fact or statistic that is not common
knowledge, as well as the source of any quote, summary, paraphrase, opinion, or
interpretation that is not your own.
Annotating a bibliography means that after you give a source citation, you summarize what the
source says, and then explain its relevance, or significance, to your project.
For example:
Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York:
Henry Holt and Company.
In this nonfiction book based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich
attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a
minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a
Wal-Mart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her
relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.
An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and
the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in
the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences
with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of
living in America. Ehrenreichs project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched. This
provides a credible account of the challenges of living on a minimum-wage income.

Your Annotated Bibliography should be typed and submitted with your final Senior Capstone

Global Component
Your Senior Capstone Project must be related to a global issue, and must involve the global
application of your knowledge and skills. This means there should be a research or service
component planned for your study abroad.
As part of your Senior Capstone Project, you might:
1. Design a process or product to help you collect information while you are traveling. This will
help you better understand your issue. You will bring this information back to help you draw
conclusions about the issue and make recommendations for the future.
For example: Create a survey on womens understanding of prenatal health care and
administer to young women in Rwanda.
2. Design a process or product that will help address a need you have been studying. This will be
implemented (or tested) while you are traveling. You will evaluate the effectiveness of your
proposed solution to help you make recommendations for the future.
For example: Develop a water conservation campaign with specific strategies for
reducing water consumption in Durban, South Africa, where dams have dropped 20
percent since 2010.

You should document your progress through ongoing journal entries. This will not only help you
keep track of your work, but also reflect on the process of completing the Senior Capstone Project.
A minimum of 10 journal entries is required; each should be approximately 200 to 250 words.
Complete a journal entry any time you:
o Take a major step or make a major decision
o Have a meeting with your Advisor, especially if you receive significant feedback
o Encounter problems and/or make essential changes to your plan
o Draw an important conclusion
Your journal entries should be typed and submitted along with your final Senior Capstone Project.

Written Paper
You will write a 4- to 5- page paper detailing your Senior Capstone Project. More specifically, this
paper should include the components below. Note that the structure may look slightly different
depending on the nature of the project. Be sure to discuss this with your Advisor.
1. Topic and question
Why is this area of focus interesting and significant?
What did you expect to discover or learn?
2. Research methods
How did you learn more about this area of focus?
What kind(s) of sources did you use, and how did you use them?
3. Research findings
What did your research reveal?
4. Analysis
What do your findings mean?
What independent conclusions can you draw?
What recommendations can you make?
5. Evaluation (if applicable)
Did your proposed solution work?
6. Reflecting on the Future
What next steps need to be taken?
What additional research should be conducted?

Multimedia Components
In addition to the written paper, you must submit a relevant multimedia component as part of your
Senior Capstone Project.
Examples of multimedia include:
o Photographs documenting your research process
o Recorded audio interviews conducted with several individuals
o Video footage of your proposed solution in action
o A documentary educating others about your issue
o A Photostory to illustrate your evidence and support your conclusions

Exact specifications for this portion of the Senior Capstone Project should be discussed with your

Summative Reflection
In addition to your 4 to 5-page written paper, you must include a personal reflection on the process of
completing your Senior Capstone Project. This reflection should be 2 to 3 pages long and written in
the first-person.
The reflection should include:
1. A brief summary of the research and components of the project
2. Responses to the questions:
o Why did you choose this topic?
o What solutions did you recommend? Why these?
o What did you conclude? Is this what you expected?
o What obstacles did you face?
o What should you have done differently?
o How would you use what you have learned in the future?
o What component are you most proud of and why?
o What advice would you give to someone undertaking a similar project?
o What new knowledge or understandings did you gain from this project?

Technical Requirements for Senior Capstone Project

Written Components
o All written components must be typed.
o Use a 1 margin on all sides.
o Use 12-pt Times New Roman font.
o Use 1.5 spacing between lines.
o Indent paragraphs; do not add an extra space between paragraphs.
o Include a Cover Page formatted as follows:

Project Title
Senior Capstone Project
Your Name
Date Submitted
This project is in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the
High School Diploma
Global Experience Magnet School
Bloomfield, Connecticut

o Place written items in the following order:


Cover Page
Written Project
Summative Reflection
Journal Entries
Check-In Conference Logs


o Number your pages. Written paper and Summative Reflection page requirements do not
include Title Page, Journal Entries, Conference Logs, Bibliography, or Appendices (as

All Senior Capstone Projects will be presented as part of your final Exhibition. You will have an
additional 10 minutes of Exhibition time to describe your research focus, findings, and conclusions.
As with all Exhibitions, it is recommended that you rehearse your presentation.
A formal defense of the Senior Capstone Project is part of the requirement for Honors Distinction.
Please see the next page for further information.
Depending on the nature of your Senior Capstone Project, it may be appropriate for you to consider a
public presentation of your work. For example, if you created a documentary, you could hold a
screening for the community. Discuss this opportunity with your Project Advisor.


Honors Distinction
Any student may choose to pursue an Honors Distinction on his or her Senior Capstone Project. This
must be indicated to the Advisor by November 1.
An Honors Project is more comprehensive that other Projects. The written paper should be about 15
pages; the summative reflection should be approximately 5 pages.
Additionally, eligibility for the Honors Distinction requires an oral defense of the Senior Capstone
Project. This includes a 15-minute presentation of research, findings, and reflections. You may share
your multimedia component(s) during this presentation. Power Point should be used only to display
relevant data, not to summarize main points or reproduce what is available elsewhere in the project.
Your presentation will be followed by questions from a Capstone Committee. These questions may
address matters raised in your presentation, points relevant to the methods or conclusions in your
project, or broader global issues. The Committee will be comprised of your Advisor, a school or
district administrator, and an outside examiner, preferably with expertise in your area of focus; all
will have reviewed your project in advance. The Committee will vote on one of the following
Summa Cum Laude (With Highest Honors)
A Summa Cum Laude project should be an original contribution to knowledge. This does not mean that it must
explore a "new" or little studied problem. An original contribution to knowledge can also result from a novel and
perceptive reassessment of a familiar question. The project should be exemplary both in the selection of problems
and data for consideration and in the manner by which conclusions are drawn about the problems. The summa
project should report findings clearly and completely. The conclusions drawn from the data should be persuasive.
The reader should conclude that he or she knows something new about the problem, having reviewed the project.
Magna Cum Laude (With High Honors)
A Magna Cum Laude project need not be a contribution to knowledge, but it should show sound judgment, a
substantial amount of work, clarity of thought and presentation, and some creativity. A magna project differs from a
summa in that the writer of the latter has made an original contribution to the field of study. The writer of a magna
project need only demonstrate that he or she has thought intelligently and carefully about a problem and presented
those thoughts clearly and persuasively. The research design should be sound and the data judiciously interpreted.
The project may be weak in selection of the problem, manner of presentation, research design and analysis, or
interpretation and conclusions; however, any deficiencies should be minor.
Cum Laude (With Honors)
The Cum Laude project differs from the magna in the difficulty of the problem or issue addressed, the amount of
work shown by the student, the clarity of presentation, and the soundness of the conclusions reached. The
deficiencies are of sufficient magnitude to cause the reader to question the conclusions. Likewise, the problem
addressed may be of relatively little significance, or the student has overlooked research sources that are clearly
relevant to the issue.
There is no reason why a student should automatically receive an honors grade just because he or she has undertaken
an Honors Project. An unsatisfactory project shows minimal industry, deficient understanding of the subject
discussed, poor presentation, and insufficient familiarity with the relevant research.


Check-In Conferences
You are required to have at least five formal Check-In Conferences with your Advisor. A formal
conference is distinguished by a pre-planned Agenda. Each must be documented using the
appropriate form.
The purpose of Check-In Conferences is to:
o Communicate your progress on your project
o Plan your next steps
o Demonstrate your ability to evaluate and synthesize
o Receive feedback
o Determine how to best present your learning
What should we talk about?
o Share your latest information, including any notes, diagrams, outlines, drafts, products
o Review the next steps in your work
o Discuss plans for presenting your learning
o Ask questions anything you are confused about or need further guidance on


Check-In Conference Log


Met with: _____________________________


Highlights of discussion:

My next steps:


Note: Deadlines to be determined by Advisors
It is important that you adhere to the submission dates negotiated between you and your Advisor.

Submit by

Topic and Question




Preliminary Annotated Bibliography


Written Paper Draft


Final Project (Written Paper, Journal Entries,

Summative Reflection, Bibliography,
Multimedia Component)


A note about extensions:

Extensions for any single component must be discussed with your Advisor at least one week in
advance of the due date.
Extensions on the Final Project will be granted only for severe personal illness, accident, or family
emergency. The request for an extension must be made in writing at least one week in advance of the
deadline, as circumstances permit. Without exception, extensions will be denied for any reason
connected with computer, printer, or Internet problems.


Scoring Guide
The Senior Capstone Project is a graduation requirement. It will be scored according to the
guidelines below. Students must score at Progressing or above to be eligible for promotion.


The projects purpose is exceptionally clear and globally meaningful.

The project demonstrates highly original thinking and sophisticated communication skills.
The project presents a rigorous challenge to the student's interest, background and knowledge.
The project demonstrates significant personal and academic growth.
The project reflects effective and thorough use of available resources.
The project makes innovative contributions to the understanding of global issues.


The project's purpose is clear.

The project demonstrates some original thinking and solid communication skills.
The project stretches the student's interest, background and knowledge.
The project demonstrates commendable personal and academic growth.
The project reflects a logical use of resources.
The project advances current understandings of understanding of global issues.



The projects purpose is somewhat clear.

The project demonstrates minimal original thinking and adequate communication skills.
The project stretched the student's interest, background and knowledge to some degree.
The project demonstrates some personal and academic growth.
The project reflects an incomplete use of available resources.
The project affirms current understandings of understanding of global issues.


The projects purpose is unclear.

The project demonstrates no original thinking and poor communication skills.
The project provides a limited stretch of the student's interests, background, and knowledge.
The project demonstrates little to no personal or academic growth.
The project reflects limited use of appropriate resources.
The project makes no contribution to understandings of global issues.