Eighth Graders Explore their “Passion” Through Project Based Learning



All eighth grade ELA honors students, under the guidance of Ms. De Friese, are being asked to “find their passion in the form of a project-based learning activity.” In other words, students will “research any topic they are passionate about and create a project to share with the class, the school, the community….the world!,” Ms. De Friese described. 


The 2021 Passion Project is an opportunity for students to further explore their own personal interests and passions. This project, which started toward the end of the third quarter, will be working on and practiced over the course of the rest of the school year. Students will be able to measure their growth using detailed overviews and weekly checkpoints for success. 


Ms. De Friese, when asked what the inspiration behind this project was, stated, “Passion projects are nothing new. The idea is somewhat of a mash-up of Google’s Genius hour, which is now adopted by many major corporations, which follows a 20% time opportunity for employees to pursue curiosities and ideas within the company with departments and colleagues they may not always have a chance to work with.”


Earlier this year, students created a blog in which they express their opinions, hobbies, and interests. This site is where students update their understanding of their project. Each update has requirements of 150 words minimum, a review of their past week, and what they plan to do in the future.


One student who chose mapping as their project, explained, “I enjoy mapping and making a piece of art that you are not only able to look at, but experience. Unlike traditional arts, mapping creates something that is good looking and functional.”


Another anonymous student said, “This type of project differs from others because it isn’t like a normal class project where you bring something into class. In this project, you track it on your own and only have to do weekly updates and you do not have to present to the class other than your blog.”


Finally, a student discussed, “My passion project is learning ASL. More specifically, learning to fingerspell and simple conversations. I choose my passion project because it has brought to my attention that the deaf community is struggling right now during covid. Usually they can read lips but with the masks it is very stressful. I want to be more inclusive and help when I can.”


Whether it’s saving the planet or baking, every student is contributing to this passion project in their own way. Based off the responses, an overwhelming majority plan to continue their project even after the deadline. Some may have done it for a new hobby while others a career but everybody is working towards their goal.


As a final note, Ms. De Friese illustrates, “Hopefully, they have fun and engage with an activity that fulfills their interests. Our passion project has a career driven element as well where students research careers they may not typically be aware of by questioning WHO they want to be in this world as opposed to WHAT they want to be.”