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Nearing the end of another MCS, students show off projects

Adaya Plastow, a fifth-grader at Mitchell Christian School, talks about her research project on South Korea on Monday at Mitchell Christian School. Fifth- through eighth-grade students at Mitchell Christian spent one day each week working on a research project and presented them Monday in the school's gym. (Chris Mueller/Republic)

The fifth- through eighth-grade students at Mitchell Christian School were up early Tuesday, putting the finishing touches on projects they've worked on all school year.

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By Tuesday afternoon, rows of booths lined Mitchell Christian's gym and students presented their projects to classmates, teachers and anyone else who would listen. Some students dressed in costume, others handed out food samples and others gave demonstrations related to the topic they chose to research.

Mitchell Christian Principal Sarah Lieberman, who also acts as a teacher, said Tuesday that students were asked to pick a topic to research at the beginning of the school year and then one day each week during was set aside for work on the projects. Thursday is the last day of Mitchell Christian's school year.

"We really wanted to put more of an emphasis this year on teaching kids the entire research process," Lieberman said.

For fifth- and sixth-graders, topics were limited to countries in the Eastern Hemisphere. For seventh- and eighth-graders, topics had to relate to space or earth science.

"As they're older, there was a little more flexibility and it wasn't as structured," Lieberman said.

Students enjoyed being able to choose their own topics, Lieberman said, and it got them more invested in the work.

"It gave them ownership of it," she said. "It wasn't something where I said, 'You have to do this.' They got to pick it."

A fifth-grader, Adaya Plastow, was dressed Tuesday in a brightly colored, traditional dress from the country she researched, South Korea, as she dared those interested to sample a spicy food she presented as part her project.

"I really enjoyed setting up all the stuff and figuring out how I'm going to present it to everybody," Plastow said.

Though students typically enjoyed researching and learning about their topics, Lieberman said, the process of writing and editing the research paper became more tedious and challenging for many students.

Spacing the project throughout the entire year helped keep students interested, without overwhelming them, Lieberman said.

"It didn't get old," she said. "It didn't get boring because it was a once-a-week thing."

Plastow said she enjoyed working on the project but, with the project and school year now wrapping up, she also felt relieved to be finished.

"There is no more stress or anything, it's really nice," she said.