Augusta Preparatory Day School sixth-grader Kelley Peel did her
science project on Alzheimer's Disease, which her grandmother, Nell Peel, suffers from. The school's My Own Science Project program allows students to pursue their own interest in science.
Photo by Jim BlaylockMOSP may sound like the name of an insect, but at Augusta Preparatory Day School its an acronym for a science project, My Own Science Project, that lets students pursue their own interests.
"This MOSP is for them to make their own connection, not just some cold experiment that doesn't mean anything to them," said science teacher Jule Chung, who along with Kim Allen is coordinating the MOSP projects in grades fifth through eighth.
For sixth grader Kelley Peel, the daughter of Marc and Kim Peel, of Martinez, it is an opportunity to learn more about Alzheimer's disease, the illness that is robbing her grandmother Nell Kelley of her memories.
"She used to take us places, like stores, and I used to spend the night at her house," Kelley recalled. "She used to come over on Christmas and spend the night with us. Now she doesn't really know our names, but she knows that we're there."
The MOSP project, which counts 100 points toward a student's science grade per semester, takes the place of the traditional science project usually displayed in science fairs. But the MOSP project is less about a slick presentation than about working through the scientific process. Mounted on plain white poster board, Kelley used a fat pink marker to write: "It's a Horrible Disease to Watch Your Loved Ones Go Through." And because she ran out of glue, she used White-Out to paste her report to the poster.
"As a teacher you can tell if a parent has been stepping in on a project," Chung said. "Here, we are trying to teach the process. Even if it didn't work out, it's the process of getting somewhere, discovery, using the scientific method."
John Stephens, the head of the middle school, brought the concept of the MOSP project to Augusta Prep from a school he worked at in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"Here it has taken on a life of its own," he said. "How do you make classes relate to the real world? Here we have a project like Kelley's that is applicable to their daily lives. "
In doing the project, students are required to keep a log sheet and turn in all their research, along with a written report. In the end, they go before their peers and present their project.
"We are teaching them how to synthesize information, do a written bibliography, then when they present it, we are teaching them speaking skills," Chung said. "Afterwards, the audience is allowed to ask questions. It is a great segue for some interesting discussions."
For Kelley, it has been an opportunity to learn more about her grandmother's illness.
"I was surprised that they don't have a cure for Alzheimers," Kelley said. "I thought the drugs they were giving her would make her better, when really all they do is slow it down. There's really nothing you can do about it."
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