At Moravian Academy, students dive into deeper learning through research-based projects. In the Lower School, theme-based projects are chosen by the teacher, in Middle School, students undertake a research-based personal learning initiative as part of the Student-Centered Original Research Experience (SCORE), and in the Upper School, the Freshman Interdisciplinary Research Experience (FIRE) and Comenius independent research projects are chosen solely by the student.
The FIRE program is a joint effort of the science, history, and English departments to help prepare students for the Comenius Program. The program is divided into three core units requiring independent research: Haiti, genetic diseases and disorders, and sustainability.
The first unit culminates in the student presentations of their collaborative research centering around Haiti. During the 2018-19 school year, students completed a close reading of Edwidge Danticat’s novel Claire of the Sea Light, which is set in early 21st-century Haiti, in English class. In history, freshmen were exposed to Haitian religious practices–including Vodou–and have related what they’ve learned to evidence from the novel. Finally, in biology, students were prompted to imagine visiting Haiti and to answer questions relating to the environmental conditions they may encounter there.
Genetic Diseases & Disorders
As part of the second major core moment of the FIRE program, students conduct independent research into various genetic diseases and disorders, seeking not only to understand underlying physiological processes but also to evaluate relevant historical and social factors. In the 2018-19 school year, this unit culminated in the viewing of Five Feet Apart, a film based on Rachael Lippincott’s popular book about teens with cystic fibrosis, the life-threatening genetic disease. After viewing the film, students had the opportunity to share their reactions and to present their own research on related genetic diseases. (See reactions from students on the left)
The final unit of the FIRE program focuses on sustainability. Beginning on the Upper School campus, in the 2018-19 school year, students visited several sites included the apiary, the garden, and Green Pond, where students discussed the impacts of pollution and pondered the challenges of civil engineering. This unit culminated in a final research project on environmental sustainability.