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Learning Curves

During a year characterized by many steep learning curves, six Lincoln Upper School students opted for one more. Chloe C. ’22, Celeste D. ’21, Sonia G. ’22, Lanqi H. ’21, Emma L. ’21, and Sophie R. ’22 enrolled in the 2020–21 Independent Study Program, for which they each developed a semester- or year-long project to build on prior coursework and gain experience in a subject of interest. 

The program lives up to its name. From start to finish, students themselves are in charge of the projects’ design, implementation, and iteration. Each student works with an advisor, who offers guidance, though not direct instruction, on the topic of study. Periodically, the cohort of students and advisors meet to discuss their progress, sharing successes and strategizing for challenges, and teaching each other about their subjects along the way. 

This year’s projects included a wide range of topics—they represented the sciences, the humanities, and the arts—but what they had in common was creativity. Students learned how to design jewelry, and they depicted social justice issues through fashion design. They researched the history of the periodic table and designed experiments to test mask efficacy, presenting findings in striking infographics. They determined what goes into the work of site planning in an urban setting, and they practiced Korean Natural Farming and brought these practices to life at a farm on Cape Cod. Whether digging through history or documenting our current moment, these students found ways to make their work timely, creative, and useful for their communities and their futures. 

If developing and carrying out an independent study is a feat during a typical school year, this year’s students have especially impressed. They connected with each other and with their advisors on Zoom, consulted Upper School librarian Jenifer Bond over email and within documents, and worked independently in a variety of locations—on a farm, in a studio, and in labs and classrooms at Lincoln. Sites of research and connection might have looked different this year, but Lincoln students’ characteristic diligence and ingenuity endured. 

This week, we gathered, aptly, in the Art Gallery, where students presented findings to the community by way of recorded presentations, putting to use their relevant screencasting and video editing skills. Teachers, staff, and classmates in attendance remarked on the range of projects and the hard work that made them possible. These students have findings and final products of which to be quite proud, and their respective commitments to these projects have informed and inspired us all this spring. 


Lanqi H. ’21: History of the Periodic Table

Chloe C. ’22: Urbanism and Urban Planning

Sophie R. ’22: Jewelry Design and Application 

Celeste D. ’21: Regenerative Agriculture

Sonia G. ’22: Social Issues and Fashion 

Emma L. ’21: Scientific Communication in the Digital Era: COVID-19