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Students share thoughts on the power of passion projects

Passion projects are built as an endeavor to engage students more directly with their own process of learning. For more on passion projects, read this article on the topic.

Below, you’ll find anecdotes from students of Voyager Academy in Durham on their passion project experiences.

Briefly describe your Passion Project.

For my passion project I chose to research the six main body systems. My driving question was: “What are the six main body systems and what do they do?” I created a Prezi to display my findings and orally presented these same findings to my audience. — Adrian

My driving question was: “How do elements in a story add to or take away from the narrative?” My final product was a short video that removed the elements from a scene in Psycho, in order to show how these elements affect the story. My tech product was a website which displayed my filmed findings. — Sarah

My driving question was: “How is Hinduism unique/different from other religions?” For my technology final product I made a Wix website that included an online poll. For my formal presentation, I brought in a few holy scriptures and books of Hinduism and a few small statues of some of the gods. I also painted a Ohm sign on a canvas and displayed it during the presentation. — Neera

Neera’s passion project.

Our passion project was a map of 30 major battles and events that happened in World War II. We made this map on Google MyMaps, a little known Google product where you can add markers on Google Maps and add specific labels. Our driving question was: “Which battles had the biggest effect on the outcome of WW2, and where were most of the battles in WW2 concentrated?” — Dominic and Umar

For my passion project, I made a website and video on forces and motion, going in depth on the laws of motion, physics, and aerodynamics. My driving question was “How do forces and motion affect our lives?” — Makayla

My passion project was all about castle warfare and the weapons that were used. My driving question was: “What role did castle warfare have in the Middle Ages?” From my research I made a castle out of Styrofoam and filled it with all the different types of weapons used in castle warfare. I also had many other small components to compliment my big one, such as a website with information, and a build-your-own catapult station. — McKenna

McKenna’s passion project.

What was your biggest takeaway from the passion project?

One of the biggest things I learned overall from the passion project was that you can never learn enough about something you are passionate about, even when you think you know everything about it. When I picked Hinduism as my topic, at first I thought I should have picked another topic because I believed I wouldn’t learn more about it. I was wrong because as I researched, I found many more new interesting facts I didn’t know. I even think that, in a way, learning more new things about something I loved made me even more passionate about it.  — Neera

My biggest takeaway from the passion project was a new sense of accomplishment. At the beginning of the project I was very doubtful in my idea and if I could get it done. I didn’t even think my idea was great to begin with. I had also never done a major project like this on my own. But, as I began to process my idea and work on the project, my doubts went away. I was very proud of my final product, and I loved how it turned out. — Sarah

How does this project reflect you and your interests?

For me, this project not only showed my creative side but also my scientific side. I want to be a surgeon when I grow up, so this project was a big deal to me. As for the creative side, I had done a lot of planning to try to make my presentation exactly the way I wanted. — Adrian

This project reflects me and my interests because it allowed me to research and create a product on a topic that I found fascinating, instead of forcing me to do a project on something I wasn’t interested in. The project also allowed me to pick a final product that I wanted to do, and this allowed my to pick something that would really play off of my talents. — Makayla

Why did you enjoy the passion project?

I really enjoyed making the final product, because it was a very hands-on experience. I got to do things with technology, as well as work with materials. I loved being able to dictate my own project. If I didn’t like how something looked, I could change it! I also enjoyed on presentation day, seeing all the different presentations. Everyone was so creative, and they all taught me something. This project overall was great because I got to learn more about something I loved, create a presentation showing my knowledge, and teach it to others. This is an experience I’ll never forget. — McKenna

Well, one thing that made me really made me love the passion project is all the positive feedback we got from our peers and teachers. We also enjoyed the very beginning when we figured out the best way we could execute a project that we were both enthusiastic about. That was a huge adrenaline surge. — Dominic and Umar

McKenna Andrew

McKenna Andrew is a seventh-grade student who loves presenting, and also loves being creative and thinking of different ways to showcase information. Her hobbies include softball and performing in the theater.

Adrien Jacobs

Adrien Jacobs is an eighth-grade student who is passionate about biology — from the smallest microbe to the largest mammal. His favorite hobbies include cooking.

Neera Desai

Neera Desai is a seventh-grade student who is passionate about science, especially genetics and heredity. Her favorite hobbies include dancing and singing.

Sarah Pope

Sarah Pope is a seventh-grade student who is passionate about reading; being able to explore different stories and other worlds, learning life lessons and different morals. Her favorite hobby is artistic drawing.

Makayla Harman

Makayla Harman is an eighth-grade student who is passionate about the arts, recognizing they provide many great benefits in creating a well-rounded education. She is also passionate about math, finding it engaging and loving the logic in it. Her hobbies include dance.

Dominic Lemen

Dominic Lemen is an eighth-grade student who is passionate about geography. He has competed in the NC State Geography Bee twice during his middle school career. His hobbies include making maps.

Umar Chaudhry

Umar Chaudhry is an eighth-grade student who is passionate about mathematics. His hobbies include playing sports.