Student-Centered Original Research Experience

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.

Student Reactions to "Five Feet Apart"

Five Feet Apart was overall better than I expected. I was able to connect with the characters, and found myself able to laugh even after devastating scenes occurred. Haley Lu Richardson’s performance was a standout; she brought a particular depth to the character Stella. I wanted a bit more from Cole Sprouse, though, as I felt that his performance was a bit surface-level. Moises Arias’s character Poe was quite the scene-stealer, and was my personal favorite. The story was well thought out, establishing feelings of hope and despair all at once. I left this film with a deepened knowledge of cystic fibrosis, which is what really matters about this film: that it could teach people about an important disease through an interesting and emotional story.” –Yiyi

“The movie Five Feet Apart gave publicity to a disease that affects tens of thousands of people within the U.S. While being fairly accurate on the portrayal and lifestyles of the patients, it is also able to appeal to age groups, offering comedy, drama, and romance.” – Mikail

Five Feet Apart attempted to convey the disease CF in a way for a younger generation to understand. The use of romance and sometimes dark humor was implemented to resonate with a teenage generation. I think that the use of humor correctly showed how people use humor to mask the pain that they are going through.” – Jackson 

Merle Smith Campus

Downtown Campus