Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

The school experience. School related queries, discussions, and stories that aren't specific to a subject.

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Eleni
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Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Ever do a project or paper on a subject so totally awesome that you can't believe it counted as schoolwork? Did you write a paper about snow boarding or WoW? Have to watch Star Wars as "research"? Or something similarly sweet? Let's hear it! I guess I'm particularly interested in projects along the lines of those examples, where the project was about a subject that is more commonly considered a hobby than a valid topic for academia, but if you did a really fun project on volcanoes or something and want to talk about it, that's good too.

Obviously I'm dying to share my favorite projects, or I wouldn't have made this post (I know, I'm shameless), so here it is:
For a year-long project in English class senior year of high school, I learned Quenya (one of Tolkien's Elvish languages). For the final presentation, I dressed up as an Elf, recited some Quenya poetry, showed a clip from one of the movies and made the class learn some Quenya phrases. Still, that doesn't quite compare to the time in college when I wrote an engineering term paper on the Bridge of Khazad-dum (the bridge on which Gandalf confronts the Balrog in FotR). The title was "The Bridge of Khazad-dum: A structural analysis of a bridge of Dwarven engineering." The best part: in each case, the teacher loved the project!
If anyone's interested, I have posts in my blog detailing both of these projects (bridge, Quenya).
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I once did a giant sculpture, Proper dimensions 2 feet bottom diameter 3 feet high tapering into nothing a somewhat castle that came from my mind. This I entered into the schoolastics competition and got scholorships and a key.

/ \
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Lleu
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Last year my English teacher basically just had us go do something cool and write a report on it for a giant project. Some guys built a ballista, someone made candy, and I learned this monster.

Cynical Idealist
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

For one class, I watched "Gojira" for credit. In a few weeks, we will be watching Dr. Strangelove.

In high school Physics, the Rube Goldberg project was great fun. We had to build a rube goldberg machine with at least 20 steps to achieve a goal determined by the class.
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

This isn't very academic, but since I'm home-schooled I can brew my own gym class. I got high school gym credit for skateboarding, then made a video as "documentation".
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axilog14
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Closest thing I could think of: We were discussing genres in Contemporary Literature, and I was assigned to report on Graphic Novels.

Pretty much turned into a comics convert overnight. Ended up getting a good grade on my report, though all I was doing was reciting Watchmen trivia from memory.
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Silvyr
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I did the Rube Goldberg project too. 20 steps to blow out a birthday cake candle. Only that was in 7th grade.
Another cool one was a presentation I did on why cannibalism is bad. XDD I'm serious. Sophomore year honors English course. It was the coolest thing ever. I made a power point. Talked about some famous cannibals. Explained why it was wrong, all the while two of my friends rushed out of their seats in the middle of my presentation with plastic forks and knives and blood capsules in their mouths. As I was presenting, one bit into my leg and had the fake blood all over, and teh other started cutting into my arm and then bit me. It was the coolest presentation I've ever given. XD what was even better was walking into my honors alg. 2 class covered in blood and shaking a lot [our english class rooms are in a mobile outside and it was snowing and I was in a skirt and tee shirt] and before I could ask my teacher if I could go wash off, he flipped out, pushed a student aside, grabbed me, starting shooting of questions like "are you okay? Oh me yarm what happened? how are you covered in so much blood? why did no one else help?" saying all that in less two seconds XD and trying to drag me off to the nurse. He had me half out teh door before I was able to explain that it was fake blood.
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Themata
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I guess woodwork doesn't count, but I'm making an electric guitar for my major project

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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

For one class in high school we had to read 'The Hot Zone'. We had a bunch of different options for what sort of project we could do (book report and such). One of the options was to make a game based on the book. So a friend and I made a rpg-esque game based on the book. The first level was journeying into an African cave, which random chances to get infected. Another area was a lab where a bunch of monkeys had gotten free; you could find a net that gave you +1 vs monkeys. It was awesome.
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

The op is win. I especially like:
Spoiler:
The beauty of this project being on an imaginary bridge, of course, was that our estimates only had to be just that--our professor wasn't going to take off points because the Bridge of Khazad-dûm was actually one foot wider than we thought.
The first question we had to ask for this was How much does a Balrog weigh? By judging the Balrog to have the approximate proportions of a 30-foot gorilla and the density of basalt, I estimated the weight of the Balrog to be around 185,000 pounds
we found that Gandalf's spell could have lowered the maximum allowable shear stress of the quartzite directly in front of him to under 65 pounds per square inch, causing a shear collapse under the Balrog when it stepped forward on the bridge. You... shall not... pass!!!

For myself, I have fond memories of 7th and 8th grade science. We did everything: skyscrapers made from a single sheet of A4, swordfights with burning hot glass tubing, pennies milled into 6 foot long sheets, pennies plated with brass, cloud chambers, spinthariscopes, thought experiments about saving Bill Gates from cancer, hudrogen filled balloons...
And to top it off we learned more hard science than many high school curriculums offer. Mr. K was one of the best teachers a student could ever wish for.

Nowadays I have a setup whereby I spend Fridays in the outdoors with my friends. We do all kind of things- rock climbing, hiking, snowshoeing, caving, etc. And it actually is on school time! The teacher is charge is a pretty awesome dude there as well.
Last edited by Mr. Beck on Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

mountaingoat
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I did my senior speech in high school about software patents. It was largely based off a couple Stallman essays.
I didn't prepare as much as I should have, so it sucked.

ajbleck
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

My english class this year is called Sci-Fi/Fantasy so we have already watched Star wars, and we get to read all the good fantasy books like the hobbit lord of the rings and others. My one paper I just had to do was to reasearch about ANY monster and write a paper on it we could even draw a picture of it with descriptions.

My friend had an awesome one to he got to make a railgun for extra credit in physics.
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trebach
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I did my junior speech in high school about the economics of the music industry.

Lenary
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I'm doing the IB Diploma, so i could have chosen any random topic to do my Extended Essay on. I chose the lighting in a midsummer night's dream, because a) i'm head of the wasps (tech team) at school, and b) i love AMSND. I'm almost finished the 4000 word essay, but it's heavy going. i might post it in parts to a blog someday...
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jbn
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Okay, I have to say that dressing up as an elf and reading quenya poetry is pretty dorky. Learning quenya is a fun and sort of neat project. But I'm a LARPer (by swedish standards) and even I think that's pretty dorky. Had I been a LARPer at an earlier age I might very well have done something similar myself. Still, eh..

Making an engineering project out of the bridge of Khazad Dum however, awesome. Very awesome.

I was lazy in my teens, so my projects usually consisted of minimising effort. Nothing fun or interesting in general.
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I never did anything super ridiculous, but my team's final project for our microcontrollers class was a modified Theremin. It was pretty awesome. We also got a really good grade on the project and the professor used it the next year as an example.
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Lenary
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

oh yeah, i also did the marshmallows + microwave = speed of light experiment in physics. best thing apart from the marshmallows was that it took us 15 mins, but the teacher counted it for 1 hour of our 50. we all love her.... platonically, though i'm not so sure about vincent.... that's another matter
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Right now I'm writing my own Canto of Dante's Inferno. It's about a unicorn-candy-marshmallow filled circle of hell with a giant carousel as punishment, where people who are very cold and "metallic" (emotionally impaired/apathetic) go. People like Edgar Allen Poe or Scrooge would get put there. Our guide is Mr. Rogers instead of Virgil.
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Why Two Kay wrote:Right now I'm writing my own Canto of Dante's Inferno. It's about a unicorn-candy-marshmallow filled circle of hell with a giant carousel as punishment, where people who are very cold and "metallic" (emotionally impaired/apathetic) go. People like Edgar Allen Poe or Scrooge would get put there. Our guide is Mr. Rogers instead of Virgil.

My English teacher assigned that for the kids above us. Good times were had.
My personal favorite was the girl who designed a level with the explicit (if unstated) goal of putting out math teacher in a position of eternal suufering.

darthchazza
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

In year 8 I made a 1 meter high trebuchet when we where studying medieval life. In art we where given a pack of giant card some Popsicle sticks and blue tack and told basically whoever builds the coolest thing by the of the week wins. Me and my friends made a big castle. In photography me and some guys spent 3/4 of our time up at the skate park videoing and photographing. I only wish I had of become a Pastafarian 6 month earlier than I did because we had to do a 20 minute presentation on a religion other than Christianity
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Poochy
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I once got to see Avenue Q live in order to write a review/critical analysis of it for English class. (Had to pay for the tickets at full price, but it was well worth it. By far the best musical I've ever seen.) It was the best two hours I've ever spent on anything relating to an English class, and there's nothing quite like being able to write "The Internet is For Porn" and "What Do You Do With A B.A. in English?" in an English paper and still having the teacher like it.

On another occasion, I did a stats project on the question of whether different footwear affects my scoring ability on DDR. Yes, that means I got to play DDR for the experiment. And when we had to present our experiments to the class, I made a PowerPoint mockup of the DDR Extreme menu interface, animations and all. I proceeded to win the class vote for the best presentation by a landslide.
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

In grade 11 the history and physics class has a "catapult" war. Groups of two would make some sort of medieval siege weapon that would launch tennis balls. The thing had to be 1m by 1m by 1m, and had to look like it was made using only materials available at the time (so not fiberglass firing arms, no metal screws etc). My friend and I made a roman ballista. We had the second greatest range (someone in the history class made a trebuchet) and by far the greatest firing rate. Ammo could be launched faster than it could be gathered. There were many balls available, so this is saying something.
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electronic mily
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Ones that I remember:

-Eleventh grade term paper on lucid dreaming
-Eighth grade science project using the scientific method to create the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Tests included submerging bread in water (to test the 'sogginess potential,' with the added bonus of being absolutely disgusting), dropping peanut butter from the roof and meaturing the diameter of the splatters (to test 'spreadability'), and I completely forget what we did to the jelly, but it was definitely one of the best projects ever. This whole project was teh idea of my two friends and I, I might add. The teacher was less than interested.
-Not mine, but in senior year a few kids build a trebuchet as a physics project and used it to fling stuff across the football field.

Oort
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Lenary wrote:oh yeah, i also did the marshmallows + microwave = speed of light experiment in physics.

Care to elaborate? I've never heard of this one.

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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Oort wrote:Care to elaborate? I've never heard of this one.

A microwave is a standing wave - there's a pattern of alternating nodes (where there's no power) and antinodes (with lots of power). That's why there's a rotating plate in a microwave, to try to distribute the power.

Take out the rotating plate, and put in something that melts easily, like marshmallows, or a chocolate bar... and you end up with an alternating pattern of melted and not melted... the distance between melted bits is half the wavelength. Multiply the wavelength by the frequency (off the sticker on the back of the microwave, or just look it up on Wikipedia) and you get the speed of light.

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Lenary
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Oort wrote:
Lenary wrote:oh yeah, i also did the marshmallows + microwave = speed of light experiment in physics.

Care to elaborate? I've never heard of this one.

1) remove plate from microwave
2) completely cover the bottom of the microwave with marshmallows, or cover a board that won't move at all
3) put the microwave on. 5 seconds is about enough, maybe 10
4) take ruler, measure distance between 2 most burnt/melted bits of marshmallow, in a direction paralell to coming out of the grille inside the microwave
5) take this distance in metres, and multiply by the frequency in Hz which should be on the back of the microwave
6) that value should be close to the speed of light. obviously errors in it.

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Eleni
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

jbn wrote:Okay, I have to say that dressing up as an elf and reading quenya poetry is pretty dorky... I'm a LARPer (by swedish standards) and even I think that's pretty dorky.

Did I just get called dorky by a LARPer on the xkcd fora?
/wrists
I prefer the term geeky

Poochy wrote:I once got to see Avenue Q live in order to write a review/critical analysis of it for English class.
That's awesome. I love Avenue Q, too!!!!
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I wrote a debate case on the topic of going to war to prevent nuclear proliferation, and after I wrote my normal Aff (pro-war) case, I wrote one based entirely on Sparta, cashing in on the then-much-newer 300 fad. The ultimate value to achieve in the round? Awesomeness. The best way to achieve awesomeness? Be as much like Sparta as possible. Therefore, go to war a lot.

I actually used it in a round. I lost, of course, but the funny thing is is that I think that you could argue I should have won, as he didn't actually address the (admittedly ridiculous) arguments, he just said I hadn't made any, and I attacked his case entirely seriously.

Pretty awesome either way.
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raike
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Sir_Elderberry wrote:I wrote a debate case on the topic of going to war to prevent nuclear proliferation, and after I wrote my normal Aff (pro-war) case, I wrote one based entirely on Sparta, cashing in on the then-much-newer 300 fad. The ultimate value to achieve in the round? Awesomeness. The best way to achieve awesomeness? Be as much like Sparta as possible. Therefore, go to war a lot.

I actually used it in a round. I lost, of course, but the funny thing is is that I think that you could argue I should have won, as he didn't actually address the (admittedly ridiculous) arguments, he just said I hadn't made any, and I attacked his case entirely seriously.

Pretty awesome either way.

Ha ha ha! I wrote and used a debate case on a similar topic; mine used a critereon of preventing piracy on the high seas. I even based it almost entirely off of pirates of the carribbean...
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I don't know if you happen to be intersecting my form of debate to know the current Lincoln-Douglas topic, but it's about vigilantism. I'm very tempted to write a case based entirely on Batman.
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Lenary wrote:I'm doing the IB Diploma, so i could have chosen any random topic to do my Extended Essay on. I chose the lighting in a midsummer night's dream, because a) i'm head of the wasps (tech team) at school, and b) i love AMSND. I'm almost finished the 4000 word essay, but it's heavy going. i might post it in parts to a blog someday...
Ooh, tell me about it. I'm in AP, but our teacher thought it would be awesome to make the non--IB kids do the IB extended essay. Mine was over DeLillo's White Noise and kicked a lot of ass, but it wasn't what she was looking for so I had to rewrite the damn thing. It ended up kicking slightly less ass.

Recently, I did a level in LittleBigPlanet based on Cantos 1-5 of Dante's Inferno. It was pretty sweet. I brought my ps3 in and set that up along with some chairs and my partner's HDTV outside the lunchroom and just had the students play it. It had quotes from the book and everything.
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raike
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

Sir_Elderberry wrote:I don't know if you happen to be intersecting my form of debate to know the current Lincoln-Douglas topic, but it's about vigilantism. I'm very tempted to write a case based entirely on Batman.

Ooh, a justification of vigilantism when the government fails to act? Personally, I was going to stick with my actual cases, as its quals month, but now I'm tempted to do Spiderman or the Boondocks Saints... or even Death Note....
"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." - H.J. Kaiser
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(غالب)

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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

The best I've ever been able to do is an earthquake resistant building and bridge. Mine survived the earthquake, but failed the home-done meteor test...

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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I'm working on a paper on Post-Colonialism and the affect of Religion in regards to Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's Weep Not, Child. I'm also working on a paper on Mark Twain's irreligiousity. Trashing religion and doing it academically. Yes, that is awesome.

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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

raike wrote:
Sir_Elderberry wrote:I don't know if you happen to be intersecting my form of debate to know the current Lincoln-Douglas topic, but it's about vigilantism. I'm very tempted to write a case based entirely on Batman.

Ooh, a justification of vigilantism when the government fails to act? Personally, I was going to stick with my actual cases, as its quals month, but now I'm tempted to do Spiderman or the Boondocks Saints... or even Death Note....

If it weren't for the fact that all the remaining tournaments are Serious Business, I'd do a round. As is, I may just write one and pass it around the debaters in our area, for laughs.
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

a785236
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

In the post-test weeks after Physics AP in high school, we had the choice of building either a marble-rollercoaster or a tennis-ball launcher. My group and I opted for the coaster, adding loops, jumps, and motors to propel the marble. My friend built a floating arm trebuchet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trebuchet# ... _trebuchet

Edit: My Stat AP class had to do projects where we surveyed students/community members/etc about any topic of our choosing. Though mine was pretty boring, someone in my class decided he would survey every student in the stats program, trying to find out how many falsified data, lied on their reports, or didn't do a survey at all. The class was hysterical while the teacher was furious.
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Aiko
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

I watched V for Vendetta in my English class, which was awesome.
And this isn't my project, but a kid I know filled two buckets with water, put red food coloring in them (to simulate blood), and had his papers floating in ziplocks inside. Which was amazing.
And, while talking about debates, I mentioned Terry Pratchett in one, and the judge gave me a huge smile. Also awesome.

megabnx
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

For my final project in physics, we were allowed to do a PowerPoint presentation on any subject of our choosing as long as we could prove it had something to with physics. Some kids did boring things like Black holes and the physics of frisbees; not me. I spent half an hour talking about methods for terrestrial annihilation. I started talking about the physical requirement of building a deathstar, the energy requirements for altering our orbit, and the possibility of creating a von Neumann army to canabilize the planet. And I managed to present all of this very business like with a straight face. When I was finished, my teacher started laughing, "Haha, really imaginative project." Then one of the kids in the front of the class remarked, "No, hes really serious about all this." Cue the awkward silence....

Miro
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Re: Coolest school projects, making schoolwork fun

My senior year the AP physics class made Trebuchet's for our final project. We split the class up into three groups of 5(very small class) and had a compitition, unfortunatly due to school rules we could only launch soccer balls because they were "safe". My team came in second.

My junior year in French III we had to write a paper about some aspect of France we found interesting, then give the speech in french. I did mine on guillotines(though through my research I found out they did not originate in France). I built a small replica guilotine inwhich I demonstrated its use to the class by beheading a chocolate santa with cherry filling. I did find a video of the last guillotine execution done in France, but my teacher didnt allow it.