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Student research opens doors to the world through SEEK and Global Scholars

7th and 8th grade students explore their academic curiosities through SEEK

For 8th grade student Asa Gibson, SEEK provided the opportunity to educate her peers on a topic close to her heart.

“I was inspired by my fearless sister and her struggle with epilepsy,” Asa said. “I decided to create a website for children and teenagers who want to learn more about epilepsy. I spent time planning out my website and interviewing my sister to include a personal view of epilepsy. Through SEEK and creating my website, I learned more about the struggles my sister faces.”

For the past 17 years, Harpeth Hall has encouraged 7th and 8th grade students like Asa to further explore their academic curiosities through the Scholars Engaged in Extending Knowledge (SEEK) program. This year, a record 27 students participated in the program.

In SEEK, a student first enters the program with the desire to know more about a topic not covered in the Middle School curriculum. She works with a faculty mentor or an expert in the field who helps her formulate questions and guide her research. All scholars complete a final product such as a research paper, a publication, a performance, or an original composition that they present to the SEEK faculty committee as well as the Middle School student body.

This innovative program encourages interdisciplinary modes of thinking to help students develop knowledge, empathy, and the capacities with which to act. Through SEEK, students build upon the academic foundation learned at Harpeth Hall in real-world situations that will help them thrive in college and beyond.

Seventh grade student Louisa Brown also found the inspiration for her SEEK project from her family. Her grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Louisa wanted to better understand his life experiences. Through research, writing, recording, and editing, she created a short documentary capturing her grandfather’s reality with Alzheimer’s.

“My goal was to show his journey and to create a video that could be helpful to other adolescents if they have family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” Louisa said. “Because of my experience with SEEK, I have gained a deeper understanding of what Alzheimer’s really is and how it has impacted my grandfather and my family.”

For students in the SEEK program, everything around them offers questions to be answered. Seventh grade student Charlotte Figler wanted to know the effects of participating in sports after playing soccer, volleyball, and lacrosse during her three years at Harpeth Hall. Seventh grade student Cora Meyer created her own teaching plan for a unit on Middle School astronomy after learning about dark matter — a hard to detect form of matter that does not absorb, reflect, or emit electromagnetic radiation.

As students presented their work during an April all-school assembly, they noted what they learned through the process. They learned the value of time management when pursuing an independent project, they developed practical skills through writing, editing, graphic design, and short-film and podcast production. They walked away with a better understanding about illness, stereotypes, body image, perfectionism, physical and mental health, the universe, and more.

Visit our SEEK website to learn more about the extraordinary work produced by the 27 scholars who completed the program this year.

Upper School students grow their global perspectives

For senior Cate Frist, it started out as a question – “Does money buy happiness?”

Through over two years of research, Cate examined the meaning of happiness across the globe. She examined what influences – cultural or financial – the happiness of the citizens of a nation, opening her eyes to the lives of people around the world.

The Upper School Global Scholars program seeks to “develop responsible citizens who have global perspectives” and “promotes cultural understanding, environmental stewardship, and service to others.”

Global Scholars is a program of independent and group inquiry beyond the classroom curriculum. Beginning in the spring of the sophomore year, accepted students explore major themes to build global competence by engaging in activities such as student-directed conversations, presentations by expert speakers, and written reflection. The program culminates senior year with an independent-research project about a topic of particular interest to the individual student scholar. In addition to research and analysis, the capstone project requires the student to create an authentic product related to her topic that may be presented to the school community.

This year, over 30 seniors completed their capstone projects and presented them this week in the Bullard Bright Idea Lab. Each project sought to answer a question or solve a global problem.

For senior Mary Husmann, it was “How are regions experiencing water scarcity affected relating to gender inequality and COVID and

other diseases? What steps are being taken in an attempt to minimize water scarcity around the world?”

For senior Sabrina Russell, it was “How have global cities' attempts at revitalizing urban landscapes affected the economic, social, and environmental aspects of their societies and cultures?”

For senior Ramsey Bottorff, it was “How did oceanic proximity affect the mythology, history, and biodiversity of Japan, South Africa, and New Zealand? How will it continue to affect these countries in the future?”

Regardless of the topic, Global Scholars program allowed students to cultivate analytical skills necessary to synthesize, communicate, and collaborate to create solutions for the most pressing problems in our ever-changing world.

Visit our Global Scholars website to learn more about the groundbreaking projects completed by our students this year.