Project: Pomfret

Media coverage by the In Our Own Words Project Group - December 2013: David Altman '16, Khia Beeles '17, Charlotte Grunebaum '17, Raphael Guillebon '16, Skye Guindon '17, Olivia Kremer '17, Olivia Leachman '16, Breana Lohbusch '16, Matt Parent '16, Max Ranaldi '16, Papa Sekyere '16, Sera Yanik '16, Sarah Youngman '16
Faculty Advisors: Robin Cook, Louisa Jones, Sheridan Maguire   Video Producer: Tim Baldyga

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Educational and research initiatives and innovations are the essence of the Pomfret Academic Experience. Faculty are consistently enhancing the pedagogical “tool box” in areas such as blended learning, the flipped classroom, project-based learning, and collaborative/interdisciplinary efforts, as well as the research of best practices in learning and adapting best practices in character education and wellness. One example of work being done in this area is the establishment of Project: Pomfret – a three-week interdisciplinary project-based learning period, taking place in December of 2014, when faculty and students will step outside the classroom to focus on thematic projects, as follows:

PROJECTS

List of 27 items.

  • 99 Problems but a Story Ain’t One of Them**

    From its origin in the 1970s to the present day, Hip Hop music has left an indelible mark on American culture. While the genre has evolved and diversified over the last forty years, there are still some basic elements which all true Hip Hop songs have in common. But how many people understand the context that Hip Hop grew out of? What makes a successful Hip Hop song?

    This project will seek the answer to these questions. After examining the origins and evolution of Hip Hop, students will engage in the study of the art and science of writing and producing Hip Hop songs. Through conversations with Hip Hop artists as well as exercises such as Braggadocio, Battling and Freestyling, we will develop our own lyrical style and create the musical backing for our individual and group songs.
  • A Choking Doberman, the Easter Bunny, and Bigfoot Walk into a Bar: The Role of Urban Legends and Folklore in Contemporary Society***

    Our group will research folklore, urban legends, and myths and the role they play in American society. We will investigate the origins of many urban legends and determine how and why they are still supported today and why people are still curious about them. Specifically, through ethnographic research, our project will explore family, regional, and Pomfret School folklore, in an effort to gain a better understanding of our folk, our culture, and ultimately, ourselves.
  • A History of Food**

    Food is a central tenet of our lives. On a basic and obvious level, it assures our survival as a species. But it has also had profound effects on the human experience, and numerous questions can be raised about its impact. How has food served as an expression and transmitter of culture? How has food shaped the course of human history? And particularly, what has influenced the development of the wide diversity of food around the world?

    This project aims to explore the relationship between geography, history, climate, and food. Students will research how the traditional cuisine of various parts of the world has evolved and particularly how it has been influenced by the geography (terrain, soil, climate, etc.). While focusing specifically on cuisines beyond the borders of North America, students consider such questions as what are the essential components of the human diet? Do these requirements vary with climate and locale? What other considerations have played a role in the development of cuisines around the world (availability of various foodstuffs, preservation of foods, length of growing season, access to water, native plants and animals, etc.)? Students will have many opportunities to learn about food in a hands-on manner by preparing, preserving, and eating foods from around the world.

    Part of the project will involve sharing the results of the group’s research through discussion, presentation, writing, and film. The final project will require each group of students to construct a nutritionally complete meal using authentic ingredients from different areas of the world, while working under and considering budget constraints. Students will need to be willing to take risks and be adventurous with their palates and their perspectives.
  • Building C.O.U.R.A.G.E. (Conversations On Understanding Racial and Gendered Experiences)***

    This project will be dedicated to creating and marketing a summer conference/retreat that will be hosted at Pomfret that will focus on the discussion of race and gender. The driving question for the project will be "How do we create time and space for constructive, honest, and difficult conversations?" We will read articles, visit other prep schools, but more importantly engage in the tough discussions around the issues that are too often taboo for private schools.
  • Comedy from the Margins***

    What do we laugh at and why? Through an extensive study of stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy, students will come to an understanding of the importance of marginalization for a successful comedic performance, and the subversive nature of this marginal(ized) art. Students will investigate areas of their own identities to perform their marginality. Case studies will include audio, videos, and live performances off campus. Come laugh with us!
  • Engineering a Better World: A Social History of the Technologies that Shaped Modern Civilization***

    At the end of the Civil War, America was seen as a failing experiment in democracy; a nation fraying from the inside and at war with itself. Just 50 years later, the United States was the greatest superpower the world had ever seen. This landmark transition was due in no small part to a group of radical innovations in technology that spurred economic growth.

    This project will look at these innovations - bridges, railroads, automobiles, petroleum, aircraft, and computers - and how they changed America and the world. We will look, in particular, at how these feats of engineering reshaped culture and society, and are the unsung heroes of modern life. Project material will include readings, visits to local industrial hubs, and documentaries.

    We will harness this knowledge of the past and look to the future. How might new and budding technologies (driverless cars, robots etc) change the world and how we interact with it, and with each other?
  • Form and Function in Living Systems***

    The group will select an "ecosystem" after some investigation (Logees Greenhouse or a pond with cliffs,), research and reflection and each student will draw a series of six sketches that increasingly zoom in on sequentially smaller parts of an organism, depicting structure as it relates to its function. After having directly observed and researched details about the adaptive function of the depicted parts, each student will present their series of sketches and explain their significance. Finally, the whole group will select one microscopic structure that unites all of their chosen organisms and create one collaborative mural made of about 30 panels that depicts both form and function of the structure, assembled in such a way that students must work interdependently to bring it all together. The subject and inspiration for these drawings will come from close examination of live and preserved specimens, and specimens prepared by students to be examined using light microscopes and a scanning electron microscope at the University of Connecticut.

    The Project's Driving Question is: What is the best way to visually depict, through paintings and drawings, the relationship between adaptive biological form and function of macroscopic and microscopic structures?
  • Geocaching: Navigation, Exploration, and Community***

    In our busy school lives we rarely find time to explore the natural world around us and connect with members of the outside community. Navigating our surroundings, thinking critically about challenges, and forging relationships with those around us are fundamental to our understanding of the world.

    This project aims to cultivate navigational literacy, geographic familiarity, logic skills, and to foster effective connections through online geocaching forums. Students will practice using GPS devices to identify their geographic coordinates, solve puzzles by exploring the world around them, connect with other "geocachers" in the greater Pomfret community, and ultimately develop their own geocaches on campus trails.

    Part of the project will involve solving puzzlecaches posted on local geocaching forums, tracking geographic coordinates around the Pomfret campus and trails in the surrounding towns, as well as presenting a final geocache project to the rest of the group, and posting it to an online forum for regional geocachers.
  • Gol: A Global Passion***

    Students will investigate the history of the game of soccer and develop a theory for why it has become the world’s most popular sport. Building off the momentum of the 2014 World Cup students will use soccer as a “lens” for which to develop an understanding of different cultures and global issues. While developing an understanding of geography, demographics, and socioeconomic status will be foundational to this project, students will also think about how the sport is being used to both build up and divide communities around the world.
  • Identity of the American Indian - Examining American Indians' Struggle for Cultural Preservation**

    This project will examine the challenges and opportunities facing American Indians today as they work to preserve their cultural identity. We will take a look at the relationship between the U.S. government and tribes as we seek to understand the current position of American Indians in the 21st relative to culture and U.S. social norms. Group participants will be able to choose their own angle to dig deeply into specific aspects of what it means to be an American Indian today. We will visit a reservation, museums, tour sacred sites, and try our hand at making our own American Indian crafts come to life. As a group we will come to understand the work that American Indians are doing to preserve their heritage and realize what we can do to impact change on their behalf.
  • In Their Own Words: Project: Pomfret*

    With the advent of the digital revolution, there are many new ways to tell a story. Each technological medium provides its own promises and pitfalls. In order to be a successful storyteller in the twenty-first century, people must be equipped with both the tools and the knowledge of how to use them.

    This project will ask students to dive into these issues by presenting the story of Project: Pomfret itself. Students will present the story to the outside world via Pomfret School’s regular communication channels and, perhaps, discover new ones through researching and experimenting with other forms of digital storytelling available on the Internet. Their challenge will be to work individually and in groups to identify the key components of the Project: Pomfret narrative and decide how and through what channels it should be shared.

    As part of the final project, students will present and reflect on the entire body of work they create over the project period as well as their findings on the various technologies they use to convey the story of Project: Pomfret. They will also use their work to help the school preserve an important part of Pomfret School’s continued educational evolution.
  • Mock Trial and Great Cases in American Legal History***

    The legal system affords criminals their day in court, and the burden of proof lies with the prosecution as it seeks to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, courtrooms hear legal challenges to laws and practices that are seen to be unfair, discriminatory or unconstitutional. The rule of law supports a functional democracy, but how does this system work, and what rules and structures are in place to ensure fairness and due process? Students will address these questions and learn about our democracy through the examination of great cases in American legal history and participation in Mock Trial.

    Mock Trial is a scenario-based, authentic application of the rules and structures connected with criminal prosecution and defense. Mock Trial calls upon students to research the law and understand the facts of a particular case while serving as witnesses and legal teams for the prosecution and the defense. This work stretches analysis and teamwork skills, and it helps students to develop the poise and confidence necessary to build and share competent, detailed arguments. Participation in Mock Trial gives students a firsthand understanding of the legal system - from the rules of evidence to proper court decorum - increasing student awareness of the importance of law in a democratic society while strengthening our understanding of the fundamental rights as described under the U.S. constitution. That understanding will be reinforced through the exploration of specific “great cases” that illuminate how our legal system functions and the important “check and balance” roles played by the judiciary.
  • Music and Myth***

    Can music tell a story? Many of the great myths have been set to music dating back to the ancient Greeks through modern times. How does music magnify the meaning and emotion within the words of these universal stories? Is it possible to imagine the telling of a story through music alone without words? These are the questions that we will explore in Music and Myth.

    We will read, watch and listen to settings of two great myths from northern Europe. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien will introduce us to storytelling through the partnership of music and film. We will also experience Richard Wagner’s operatic retelling of the Ring of the Nibelung through vocal and orchestral music of epic proportions. Other symphonic works of the Romantic and Late-Romantic period will provide a basis of comparison to Shore’s soundtrack. We will strive to understand the composers and musical styles that influenced Shore’s music and helped him determine his musical choices.

    Class activities will focus on experiencing and discussing the techniques used by composers Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings), Richard Wagner (The Ring of the Nibelung) and other major composers of the Romantic and Late Romantic period. These are films, operas and symphonic works on a heroic scale worthy of the great myths that they depict. Be prepared to spend time together watching and listening to great performances.

    The final presentation will be a visual and musical retelling of chosen excerpts from Tolkien’s trilogy. Students will lends their specific talents to recreate a scene from the movies that illuminates the relationship between music and story telling.
  • Once Upon a Time: Creating Children’s Books***

    Do you remember your favorite children’s story? Have you ever thought about creating your own book? This project will provide students with first-hand experience planning, writing, and illustrating their own children’s books. Students will investigate the major structural, educational, cultural, moral, and developmental elements found in children’s literature. Students will meet guest authors who will introduce the group to the writing and illustrating process and will share their experiences as professional artists. Working as an individual or in small groups, each student will create a children’s book.

    This process will include researching a topic, developing characters, writing a storyline, and illustrating his or her story. The goal of this project is for each student to produce his or her own children’s book, which may be professionally printed, bounded, and displayed. As a final project, students will exhibit and read their books to local school children, faculty children, and members of the school community.
  • Performance and Perspective: Lizzie Bright***

    This project begins with a two day overnight workshop in Boston that takes diversity and inclusion to a new level and concludes with the production of Cheryl West’s play, Lizzie Bright and Buckminster Boy. The objective of the project is to create a meaningful opportunity for conversations about difference and diversity at Pomfret. Students will rehearse the play throughout Project: Pomfret. Project members will perform the play for Ms. Cheryl West, the Schwartz Visiting Fellow for 2015 in January. Ms. West is a leading American playwright as well as professional and youth trainers to empower them with the leadership skills to increase respect, empathy, and appreciation among all members of the Pomfret community. The project will map out ways to capitalize on the experience of having a leading American playwright on our campus as well as how to continue to find and use common language to define and explore the world of difference we all inhabit. Project members will develop the skills to make a difference at Pomfret and their chosen college.
  • Pomfret Mini Golf Course:(Griffin Golf-Land)***

    Everyone enjoys a round of miniature golf with friends and family while visiting the beach, or looking for a way to spend a lazy summer afternoon. The ramps, tunnels, obstacles, and hidden paths in the course make the holes challenging and fun. Here’s your chance to design a mini golf course that will entertain your fellow Pomfret School students. In this project, the students will design a 9-hole, indoor/outdoor, portable miniature golf course. Students will choose three holes to build, and develop a business plan for a miniature golf park. The students will learn the physics of miniature golf through experimentation with ramps, obstacles, carpet surfaces, and tunnels. They will use their experimental results to help create holes with a variety of challenges. They will develop a business plan for opening their miniature golf course, taking into consideration all of the expenses necessary to operate in the entertainment industry. Entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry, as well as product development specialists will evaluate their designs and business model. The constructed holes will be unveiled at the whole-school presentation event at the end of the project period, when students can try them out.
  • Reading the Landscape of Pomfret**

    From up on top of our hilltop, we can peer in any direction and see forested areas. Yet, was this landscape always covered in trees? What did Pomfret look like before our school was built? Students will study the natural history and ecology of the Pomfret campus, through observation of local species and archived history, and exploration of Pomfret’s 500 acres. Students will research and learn about flora and fauna species, land-use history, and ecological succession. Ultimately, students will collaborate to create an interactive, digital field guide. They will develop a meaningful connection to the place they live and the land they study.
  • Saving Private Ryan: World War II, History, and Hollywood***

    This project seeks to understand the ways in which historians and filmmakers remember the past. Focus will be placed on the diverse contributions of the “Greatest Generation” by examining the conflict which defined them. Using the book and television series “Band of Brothers” as a jumping off point, students will study the personal narratives of famous as well as local participants. A special emphasis will also be placed upon the growth and role of science and technology during the war and the impact it had on the war as well as its participants. Field experiences will include a visit to the USS Massachusetts in Fall River and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut. Throughout the process, students will be expected to work individually and in groups to conduct research and interviews, critique films and historical arguments and, ultimately, come to a better understanding of how these two fields impact our understanding of history.
  • Stopping Time: Physics and Photography***

    In the 1930’s, MIT’s Harold “Doc” Edgerton pioneered new techniques in photography, allowing him to capture events that happen too quickly for the human eye to catch. His iconic photos of a bullet going through an apple, milk drops forming intricate crowns, and the first moments of the nuclear bomb explosions are among the most famous photos in history, and his techniques reveal a great deal about how light and time work. Our group will be constructing its own ‘Edgerton photo laboratory’ to shoot a variety of impacts, reactions, and phenomena taking place in hundredths or thousandths of a second. They’ll build their own timing delay circuits and test them with sounds and motion. In the process of capturing these images, students will learn about the physics of light, acoustics, optics, and time, and they’ll gain practical experience with manually controlling digital cameras. The group will travel to the MIT Museum to view Doc Edgerton’s work first hand and get comfortable with the techniques in a hands-on workshop. In the end, they’ll produce a unique gallery of images and captions revealing their explorations of time, light, and motion.
  • Teaching the Kids Next Door***

    Education is one of the most important factors living a fruitful and successful life. It is especially critical that young students get a good start by establishing a love of learning and basic skills. But this is a more complicated prospect than at first glance.

    Come help us explore elementary aged minds as we create lessons to teach Rectory second and third graders about sound. Pomfret students on our team will have the opportunity to teach different topics such as math, writing, science and more! Students will be asked to research content, learn about childhood development, and elementary school teaching strategies. They will also collaborate with veteran teachers and the students themselves to understand what makes for effective learning in a classroom and a lesson plan.
  • The Future of Energy***

    What is the future of energy? How will the world meet its increase demands for power? With the earth’s population headed for nine billion by 2050, the world is growing and changing faster than ever. According to several research estimates, global energy demand could increase by 80% by 2060 compared to 2010 levels. This will significantly impact political, social, and economic life in the developed and developing world.

    Our group will begin its journey by examining the current trends and technologies in energy production as well as coming to a greater understanding of what future energy needs look like. From there, we will look at emerging issues and trends in energy production, storage, and distribution, trying to understand what might lay ahead in the world of energy and what potential effects this future might have on the earth and its inhabitants. Ultimately, groups of students will design projects that allow them to explore any number of potential areas of interest: such as researching emerging energy forms, the business of energy production, or environmental activism surrounding energy. This opportunity will allow students to become experts in a chosen field associated with the future of energy.
  • The Individual, The Community, and the World*

    This Project is designed for Lower Forms and includes an exploration of the world around us. Through field trip and research about local graveyards to presentations of members on the family, this project is about finding the story that resides in us and those around us. Through the telling of story in various formats--audio, visual, digital, and personal speech each member of the group will get to explore the lives of those in the Pomfret town community, the Pomfret community and one's own family. The concept of story is a complex one and each mode of presentation has its strengths and drawbacks. We will look at the lives of those in the past from the community through a trip to the local graveyard, do grave rubbings followed by the use of In-Design (and the expertise of Ms. Rowe) and research engines (through the expertise of former History teacher Lauren Goethals) to present the stories of the past members on the Pomfret Town Community. We will also borrow from the PBS program--The Moth--to learn how to tell a story through just audio presentation. This will also include the concept of how to conduct an interview, put the notes together and present the findings. Lastly we will focus on the story of a family member which will incorporate the skills learned through the project period in a culminating presentation using at least three different mediums.
  • The P-Files: The Truth is Out There***

    From the attempted assassination of Andrew Jackson to the recent Boston Marathon Bombings, conspiracy theories have always been a part of our American culture. But as Spycast website asks, “What makes conspiracy theories so appealing and why have they become so prevalent in this day in age? Do some of them contain a grain of truth? And who stands to gain from spreading these ideas?”

    In this project, we will explore in depth conspiracy theories. We will examine current and past conspiracy theories and take a closer look at what techniques it takes to proliferate a conspiracy theory. We will also explore both the credibility and dissemination of conspiracy theories. Students will focus on not only how conspiracy theories function in society but also on the rhetorical strategies used.

    In addition to the research of each conspiracy theory, we will try our hand at uncovering the truth through the use of forensic science. We will apply modern technology, scientific techniques, and the principles of forensic science to test the claims of the conspiracy theories. ​
  • Unheard Voices: Stories in LGBT History and Evolution of Acceptance**

    This project will be a conversation designed to cultivate greater awareness about LGBTQ experiences throughout history from ancient times to the present. Together as a group, students will first be invited to build a LGBTQ fluency skill set through discussion and readings. Once this common language of informed respect and norms of discourse is established, students will be assigned a person or couple and explore the particular era in which they lived. The purpose of pairing the individual with the historical time period is to recognize the extent to which LGBTQ acceptance existed and the LGBTQ safe spaces existed. Our united goal is to better understand the fundamental existence of the LGBT movement and its historical arc; both its glacial pace of change before the 20th century and its accelerated pace of change in just the last 25 years. Our discussions, reading, and activities are designed to celebrate those who chose and championed to be their full selves in times when there was no formal cause, movement, or language by which to be a champion.
  • Who Am I?***

    This project will allow and provoke students to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Various tools, tests and assessments will be used and evaluated by the students to help them develop a clearer picture of components of their character, psychological, developmental and learning styles. Final presentation of student’s work will be a synthesis of the various insights they have gained from their research as well as a tangible product of their constructed identity.
  • Words in Motion**

    The most mesmerizing movements in modern dance unfold a human narrative in our imagination, and the suggestions in great poetry resonate similarly in vivid portrayals of human life. Consider how these art forms might work together to accentuate a shared message, one expressed with the body, spirit, and mind. Our project will use the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s controversial and counter-cultural poem “Howl” as a gateway through which to explore how to fuse dance and poetry. Ginsberg’s poem was put on trial before the Supreme Court in the state of California, charged as being “obscene literature” and challenging the rigid propriety of mainstream America. Appropriating the spirit of Ginsberg’s poem to the context of our lives at Pomfret, we will create anew with our own original words put to movement, so as to give them new life. Interpreting dance into words and words into dance, we will collaborate toward a performance that will challenge both ourselves and our community. No experience in either dance or poetry required.
  • Y Yoga**

    Why yoga? This project will explore the history and evolution of yoga as it traveled over time from East to West. We will study and physically explore a variety of yoga practices as well as learn about corresponding human anatomy and the chakras, intertwining the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the practice.
*Grades 9 & 10
**Grades 11 & 12
***All Grades

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TRANSLATE:

Pomfret School cultivates a healthy interdependence of mind, body, and spirit in its students as it prepares them for college and to lead and learn in a diverse and increasingly interconnected society.

Pomfret School does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, handicap, gender, sexual orientation, age, or national origin in the administration of its education policies, admissions policies, financial aid, or other programs administered by the School.