Following Their Passions
Sexual assault. Texting and driving. Energy efficiency. Standardization of education. Police positivity.
These topics, and more, are being explored as part of Mr. Brian Voss’s passion project assignment in his Advanced Placement Macroeconomics Class.
Many of the recent changes that have come about at LHS originally began at a district level. This past year, the D128 Innovation Team started to meet and formulate ideas on improving both District 128 schools. This team, facilitated by Dr. Rita Fischer, the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, is made up of teachers and administrators from Libertyville and Vernon Hills High Schools.
Many changes have come out of the team meetings, such as the creation of groups that look at innovative learning spaces, problem-based learning, service-based learning, later start time, as well as several other ideas that are currently in the works.
“These team meetings, they simply provide a space for innovative teachers to meet. It is because of them that we are able to do what we do,” Dr. Fischer said.
These teachers, teachers like Mr. Voss, allow their students to imagine and create and explore possibilities they otherwise would not have. Mr. Voss has implemented this idea in the form of a new assignment: a passion project.
As Mr. Voss’s second semester AP Macro classes began, the passion project assignment was introduced. During first semester, one of Mr. Voss’s sociology classes created a “social movement,” bringing awareness to sexual assault. After the interest and the success of the movement, Mr. Voss decided to introduce the passion project this semester.
“The only expectation for my students is I want them to create something — find a problem, create a solution,” Mr. Voss said. “The passion project is a chance for students to create a project about something they are interested in. It allows them to take part in something that is bigger than themselves.”
Mr. Voss’s assignment had two requirements: one, that the project result in an end product and two, that it aligned to one of the 17 UN global goals. These goals look at problems global leaders hope to eradicate by the year 2030, leading to accomplishments like gender equality, quality education, and no poverty, to name a few. The goals are so vast that really any topic students were interested in was able to fall under one of these categories.
Every Friday, students were given a full period to work on their projects. They are graded based on their effort and progress on these work days, as well as anywhere from 30 to 50 points for their final product. Due to the autonomous nature of this project, Mr. Voss found it fitting to allow students to create their own rubric and decide how many points they wanted for the project.
To end the project, Mr. Voss’s AP Macro students will be hosting a presentation similar to a TED Talk, in which each student gets 10 minutes to tell the world (or the LHS auditorium, in this case) about their findings and products. These presentations will be open to everyone and will take place on May 22 and 23 during periods 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8 in the Studio Theatre.
Mr. Voss isn’t entirely sure how the project will play out; however, he has confidence in his students.
“It’s a huge risk for a teacher to go into something not knowing the end result and accepting that this could be an epic failure,” he said. “I know my students are motivated to do something, and as long as they are motivated, something great is going to come out of this.”
Since this project is so student-based, it seemed only fitting to mention a few of the projects that are being worked on by a few of the seniors at LHS.