What is the best test of mastery? To us, knowledge only gains its power by being applied and extended. Our semi-annual Project Weeks challenge students to dive deep into something they have learned in their academic coursework, make it personal, and mobilize it creatively. Through close faculty mentorship, students learn to take an active step in pursuit of their intellectual interests. Projects frequently cross-disciplines, fusing fields like chemistry, photography, linguistics, music and carpentry. While the focus of Project Week is on research and process, the results are incredible.
Project Week offers students the opportunity to propose and successfully complete two projects at the end of each academic semester that employ skills they have acquired in their academic and non-academic program during the semester. Students are encouraged to develop a project that allows them to pursue their passions and to investigate topics inspired by their recent study, one of which must be academic in nature. The application of skills and recently acquired knowledge relates directly to the intensive rehearsal time that is set aside for major performances of drama and musical groups. Fall and spring dramatic productions count as double projects. Project Week epitomizes the Putney ideal; students should learn and work for the love of learning; they are encouraged to engage in an independent process of inquiry and exploration. Projects represent a significant culmination of a semester’s work since the time devoted (nine to ten days at the end of each semester—a total of twenty days) is the equivalent of an academic month. The Educational Program Committee approves each project.
For 6-10 hours a day, Putney School students and their faculty sponsors work on projects ranging from performing a Mozart piano quartet to learning introductory Japanese. During recent project weeks students:
- Knitting 3D geometric forms
- Discussing Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
- Programming a plant hygrometer w/ online monitoring
- Translating Chinese stories
- Studying the neuro-science of autism
- Designing a kinetic sculpture w/ 15 pendula
- Composing a ballet score
- Engineering solar ovens
- Surveying bioluminescent organisms
- Photographing and analyzing deep space objects
- Exploring gay rights through The Laramie Project
- Building a dulcimer