Bunderwood & Co.

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February 18th, 2018 by mica

This year at Brightworks offers the Orange Band students the chance to make some major leaps in their education.  Each student learns how to present a proposal for a project they’d like to work on, and after approval, works to meet their own goals and deadlines over the course of the arc.  With the overarching theme of “cloth” this time around, Ronan set out to figure out how to make a fabric that would protect humans on Mars.

He researched the history of spacesuit material, learned about the properties of different fabrics and metals, built a sample, and did a number of tests to learn about the suitability of his Beta cloth for life on Mars.
It was a project full of learning— everything from how to overcome the frustration of a sewing machine to how to deal with deadlines, setbacks, and self-reflection. One of the biggest moments of learning, was in his preparation to present his findings to the Brightworks community.
Here he is, the morning of the presentation, learning from his teacher how to keep his nerves down for what is to come.  Leading up to this moment were countless hours of practice at home, designing and creating slides, asking for feedback, watching Ted talks on “how to present.”  Ronan took it all very seriously and worked very hard, late into the night, for many nights.
And when it came time for the presentation, he rocked it.  As a parent, you show up to something like this, hoping that a negative experience won’t give a child a lifelong phobia of public speaking.  Very smoothly, he walked through his slides and spoke, without notes.  He had the audience laughing as he impersonated JFK in a famous speech and in a very steady and engaged way, made his way through the presentation.
A few nights later, at Expo, the kids had a chance to share the highlights of their presentation with the broader community of parents and friends.  Here, his teacher from last year, Mackenzie, is asking thoughtful questions and giving feedback.
There was so much learning for Ronan that he was able to reflect on in this board below.  I was surprised to find out that he mentioned (he) “loves presenting.”
The whole process has felt like a big milestone for Ronan— seeing a project from an idea to its natural end and learning the tools to speak in public.  I was so impressed to see his work ethic and his genuine desire to improve himself along the way.  He kept asking for feedback and critical feedback at that, so that he could make his project even better.  I’m not sure I recognize the same kid that I dropped off at Brightworks a year and a half ago.  With gratitude for a place that lets these kids be themselves and rise to their potential.

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