Twenty-five Taft students presented the outcomes of their yearlong Independent Studies Program (ISP) inquiries during the ISP Fair this week. The ISP Fair is the culminating event of the program, which has been a fixture at Taft for more than 50 years.
Established in 1964 by then-Headmaster John Esty, Taft's Independent Studies Program (ISP) allows students to pursue their passions through high-level, inquiry-based, self-directed courses of study; it was the first program of its kind in the nation. The program is open to upper mids and seniors, who are invited to submit project proposals to the ISP committee in the fall. Accepted students work with a project adviser throughout the year; they may also receive support and guidance from faculty volunteers serving on the ISP committee. Students earn no credit or grades for their work; the goal is intellectual fulfillment through advanced and self-directed learning.
This year's projects included a wide range of unique and innovative studies, including: A project by senior Samantha Chan integrating neuroscience, art history, and art interpretation to study mental illness and artistic creativity; a study of malignant hyperthermia, by senior Sydney Gerbel; and a look at virology and digital molecular modeling by Isabelle Posmantur. Upper mids also brought their best work to the table, with Joel Edholm taking a unique approach to looking at the next stock market crash, Yaya Lu studying the very timely history of the relationship between America and North Korea, and Osi Bialunska looking at human rights laws in the United States, a project she hopes to continue next year.
"Our ISP students completed truly inspired and creative projects this year," says ISP Director Dr. Amanda Benedict. "The scholarship was impressive. Remember, these students complete these projects independently, through their own curiosity and perseverance. In the words of Taft's Portrait of a Graduate, these students truly Possess intellectual curiosity and resourcefulness, and actively engage in the process of learning. I am so proud of them."