Cooper Independent Study Program Enhances Lifelong Learning, Students Present Virtually

By: Deb Spiess
| Published 05/07/2020


THE WOODLANDS, TX – Students in The John Cooper Upper School’s Independent Study Program (ISP) wrapped up their studies the last week of April with online presentations. The program, in its fourth year, offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to design a substantive learning experience in place of traditional coursework offered by the school.

Upper School Academic Dean Rebecca Brady oversees the ISP program in which students work with a faculty sponsor on either a semester or a year-long ISP.

“Our ISP program is special because it affords students the opportunity to do a deep dive into an area of particular interest, present their project to the school community, and receive credit for their research and work,” Brady said. “The ISP program complements our challenging curriculum as students are actively seeking knowledge and understanding, with the intrinsic motivation of their own curiosity as their guiding light.”

“This year, we had a fascinating range of projects based on topics that our students were personally invested in, including building and testing an organic CO2 filter to address air pollution, examining gentrification of the Third Ward in Houston, and learning about the history of automobile restoration in America while completing a “restomod” of an International Scout,” Brady said.

This year’s presenters and their topics included:

Hailey Huettel • History of Automobile Restoration
Aleena Fayaz • Right to Vote 2020
Sawyer Liner • Organic CO2 Filter for Small Scale Industrial Processes
Sebastian Plaza • Third Ward’s Shift
Zoe Tait • The Industry Norms of Behavioral Neuroscience
Jane Ritch • The Crisis in Venezuela
Carson Wolf • Political Scope
Pablo Flower • Tamina and Freedmen Towns

“While we usually have six to eight independent study projects a year, this was perhaps the most diverse array of topics covered,” Head of Upper School Stephen Popp said.

“I think there’s a lot of misconception that it’s going to be a lot of work,” senior Aleena Fayez said after her presentation on the right to vote. “It is work, but I think it’s worth it because if you pick a topic that you’re passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work. I highly encourage it–not only is it good for you to figure out what you want to do in college, but you become knowledgeable and a well-informed citizen. Definitely do it.”

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