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The Eighth Grade Research Project

by Lori Kran, CWS current 4th grade teacher, Chair College of Teachers

The Eighth Grade Research Project and Presentation exemplifies a fundamental tenet of Waldorf education: to cultivate a passion for life-long learning. The intentions of this year-long assignment are for eighth graders to research a topic about which they are passionate; to acquire new knowledge and new skills; and to create something useful, beautiful, handy, or innovative.

Students are also expected to ask an adult who is an expert in their field of interest to mentor them throughout the year. This fosters a meaningful relationship between mentor and student. It further cultivates the well-known Waldorf student quality of interacting easily with adults. Those of us lucky enough to have had personal experience with Waldorf graduates know that these fine young women and men look adults in the eye, expect and give firm handshakes, and expect to be taken seriously by the adults in their lives. This is why so many high school teachers report that Waldorf students exude confidence in their studies and genuine enjoyment for learning.

The projects culminate in an evening of demonstrations as students are expected to present their research to the CWS community. Most students delve into this project enthusiastically. It is an opportunity for them to individuate their interests and studies and to work on a long-term

project. My students, the Class of 2009, impressed me not only with their interests, but also with the results of their research, planning, practice, and hard work.

Projects included: building a trebuchet, a terrarium, remote airplane, telescope, sewing a quilt, learning: to cook, be an excellent “handy man,” the piano, the electric and acoustic guitar, to sketch, to hunt, research and write poetry, improving martial arts skills, and master a difficult song. Every presentation demonstrated how seriously students took their research project.

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