Senior Projects 2017

SCHOOL NEWS
Originally Published in Tuesday News May 16, 2017

Senior Project is an elective component of the twelfth grade curriculum. During the fourth quarter, students may propose a project to be completed in place of their English and History classes. In the spirit of intellectual curiosity, some students use Senior Project as an opportunity to deepen knowledge in a subject area that is already a passion, while others use it to explore something totally unknown them. Projects may be of a scholarly or artistic nature, and require a significant written component, an oral defense, and a presentation to the public. Students work under the guidance of a primary and secondary faculty advisor, but there is significant focus placed on self-directed learning. Outside advisors provide expertise in addition to that of the faculty advisors, and each senior picks a junior advisor as well. The entire group meets at the conclusion of the quarter for an oral defense, which is the last step of the project before public presentations. The following are projects completed in the spring of 2016-17.

Scarlet McCauley- Finding My Genre 

I have been writing music all my life and Senior project provided me with the opportunity to professionally record my songs at a local studio. I have researched different genres of music, artists, and their influences in order to place myself in a set genre. My presentation will include my findings, an audience involved experiment, as well as a live show of the songs included on my album. 

Sydney Sappenfield- Mapping Reality: Investigating the Individuality of Reality

I have always been very interested in psychology, specifically how different each person’s reality can be. Since I intend to study neuroscience in college, I decided to take this interest and look into the science behind it. I researched various sensory pathways which are used to create our realities, and looked into two mental disorders, schizophrenia and PTSD, which alter perceptions of reality. Based on my findings, I created three art pieces to represent individuals’ experiences of reality. My presentation will focus on the differences between people’s experiences and i hope that the audience will gain a greater respect for the experiences of those with mental disorders. 

Dylan Hardenbergh- Archeology of DRTO 0063 Shipwreck

Over the past two summers, I was an intern for the Submerged Resources Center of the National Park Service and participated in a project of mapping a shipwreck in Dry Tortugas National Park. For my project I researched and interpreted the shipwreck that I helped map during my internship. I learned a lot about how ships are built and about what happens to the ship after it wrecks. I also learned about the materials that were used to build wooden sailing ships and the different techniques used to construct historic wooden ships.

Lauren Vossler- What Now? The Next Decade of American Politics    

I find politics extremely interesting. This topic will be relevant the rest of my life and I wanted to gain a better understanding of the influential factors that contribute to this area. For my project, I wrote a paper examining why Donald Trump won in 2016 and that also includes my predictions for where things are going from here. 

Colin Rouaud- Environmental Feeding Behaviors of Mule Deer 

Since a young age, I have been very interested in the outdoors, especially hunting, fishing, and the animals that I may see during that time. I have realized that studying these animals is something I would like to do as a career. Over the course of 8 weeks, I set up trail cameras in the sage, pinyon/juniper, and subalpine environments to learn about the feeding behaviors of mule deer. I will be presenting an overview of four different behaviors that are shown while feeding: ear movement; head raising and rotation; tail twitches;  and the average amount of time spent feeding. 

Kevin Garcia- Brain Throughout Visual Response    

A few years ago, a soccer coach had told me that soccer players are able to think quickly and process information very rapidly because they are constantly in situations that require quick thoughts and actions. Over the course of six weeks, I studied the visual response process breaking it down into visual reception, visual understanding/occipital lobe, decision making, and motor function. I also looked at research in this area involving elite athletes and performed testing on students at VMS.  I will present information about how visual stimuli or images are processed, how the brain makes a decision, how impulses are carried, and how the impulses lead to a reaction. My presentation will also include an interactive component where the audience can participate in the tests that I used to measure reaction time.

Marnina Seller- Hippotherapy: Case Studies and Reflection on the Experience     

I have been riding horses since I was four years old and have recently found a passion for Equine-Assisted Therapy. For about a month, I traveled to Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center (CTRC) in Longmont, CO to gain first hand experience of the effects of Hippotherapy. During my volunteer experience, I interviewed parents of some of the children who participated in Hippotherapy and wrote mini-case studies about some of the children I observed. I also created an Ad promotion for CTRC along with a video.

Peter Mitchell- Making a Wireless Charger   

I have always been interested in upcoming technologies, so I chose to explore wireless charging. I researched the mechanics of wireless charging, designed my own model of a wireless charger for a phone, and mapped out a basic circuit on a breadboard. 

Kaitlyn Harty- Good Food, Good Mood: An Anxiety Reducing Cookbook

Since middle school, I have suffered from test anxiety. Rather than using medication to reduce my anxiety, I changed my diet. Since both anxiety and cooking have been such a large part of my life, I decided to combine both aspects by researching how diet affects anxiety. I began this process by learning about the gut-brain-axis and the HPA axis in order to understand how the gut works as a second brain in the body. I learned what types of food and bacteria release anxiety derived hormones, such as cortisol, and foods that help create calming and happiness hormones, such as melatonin and serotonin. I then created a cookbook for foods made solely with anti-anxiety ingredients. 

Lyle Shipp- The Hoax of the Moon Landing

I have been interested in trying animation for a while, and I knew senior projects would provide me with a great opportunity to do so. I wanted to create an animation about something that was of interest to me, so I  chose conspiracy theories. I looked into the psychology behind conspiracy theories, studied the space race, and Apollo 11, and took a close look at the details of the Moon landing conspiracy. After completing my research, I created a storyboard for an animation based on the government faking the moon landing, and spent the remaining weeks drawing each frame. 

Lindsey Peterson- An Exploration of Photojournalism Through the Lens of Rock Climbing    

The purpose of my project was to expand my knowledge of photography through photojournalism. I had previous experience with nature photography from a VMS intraterm trip to the Grand Canyon, but I wanted to understand the role of photos in society. I wrote a research paper on photojournalism and how it affects society, which included a look at select photojournalists and their work. I also created a portfolio of pictures that I took of my friends rock climbing that will be on display at my public presentation. 

Tyler Hancock- Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD): A Historic and Psychological Review    

LSD is a federally mandated schedule I drug and is also one of the most prominent drugs on college campuses. When I found out that LSD had been used in psychotherapy and is not just the illegal "party drug" that everyone sees, I was very interested in exploring why that is. Over 7 weeks, I researched the origins of LSD, from its history to its psychological effects. After reading many reports and articles surrounding the drug, I wrote a research paper and a mock proposal to the DEA explaining why LSD should be researched further. 

Whitney Merriman- Homelessness in Colorado    

I wanted to push out of my comfort zone and explore a topic that somewhat intimidated me. Having had previously-formed stereotypes of the homeless, I set out to discover the root causes of homelessness and to use my art as a medium for processing and understanding what I learned. I made connections with several organizations and people that work with the homeless in Colorado and created five artworks which will be on display as a part of my presentation. 

Hannah Siderfin- History of Women’s Fashion: Calvin Klein, Coco Chanel and The Decades

I love learning about fashion, and I wanted to learn how to sew. Over the course of 10 weeks, I researched how women's fashion has evolved since the 1920s with a specific focus on Coco Chanel and Calvin Klein. I also sewed together a skirt and created artistic boards to document how I learned to sew.  

Maddie Donovan- Alzheimer’s Disease: An Overview and Preventative Regimen

I am interested in human biology and  particularly fascinated with the complexity of the human brain. I wanted to learn more about Alzheimer's Disease and specifically what one can do to diminish its effects as there is currently no cure. I researched Alzheimer's and used the information I found to create a six-day regimen that combines the prevention techniques I learned about. 

Dashiell Prince-Judd - A Musical Interlude 

Dashiell completed an independent study in music. This performance will be a culmination of his work. 

Flinn Lazier- The Art of Business and Marketing

Marketing and business are the other half of car racing. Without these two things, racing would not exist and without a general understanding of business, it would be hard for to find a way to race. I very interested in business and marketing as a part of my racing career. For my project I focused on brand design, brand awareness, social media, sponsorships, and website design to help grow Lazier Racing.     

Chloe Doctor: Constructing Music Through History, Culture, and Modern Inspiration

I love music and have been playing the flute for 8 years. I realised that I had never composed before and that in order to start, I would need background information on different types of music. I chose to study the music of my Native American culture as inspiration. Over the course of six weeks, I listened to a lot of music ranging from Native American to punk. I really tried to take inspiration from everything that I listened to, analyzing why each note was added and how it contributed to the overall product of a song. During my presentation I will play the two compositions I created and share information about Mohawk and other Native American cultures. 

Regina Hernandez- A Mindful Community

In the fall of 2016, I became a certified yoga teacher. During the 200 hours of required study, I was introduced to meditation. Meditation has become a daily ritual, and has positively changed my life. Over the course of 6 weeks, I worked with UBU, a mindful school, to develop a pilot program for the third grade class. I worked with the students every morning to practice mindfulness, and I also wrote a research paper on the benefits of mediation in schools.

Holly Parker- The Understanding and Acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder       

I have lived in Vail my whole life and I wanted to explore something I didn't know much about. I have always had interest is psychology and sociology, so I decided to combine these areas into one topic for my project. Over the course of 6 weeks, I explored what it means to be under the autism spectrum, the history of autism, how a diagnosis impacts an individual, and how society reacts to autism. For my final piece, I created a movie to help people understand autism from an intellectual, and scientific standpoint, but also to help people understand how autism impacts the individual and how it can make life difficult without aid and understanding. 

Peter Ferraro- Chinese Cuisine   

I love noodle bowls and chicken dishes. Before I went to China, I was not a huge fan of Chinese food, but in China I fell in love with it. It is very different than Americanized Chinese cuisine. For my project, I cooked five different Chinese dishes and wrote a research paper about the history of five main regions in China known for their cuisine. I created my own website that has pictures of the food I cooked, information about the history of the regions, and recipes of the dishes I made. My presentation will focus on the culture of Chinese cuisine, and how food is treated more like an art form in China than just a means of nourishment. I will also provide samples of Chinese food that I cooked.

About Vail Mountain School

Founded in 1962, Vail Mountain School is a K-12, coed, independent school in Vail, Colorado. Our philosophy is to provide a demanding, college preparatory, liberal arts education in an atmosphere of mutual respect between faculty and students, where nurturing a healthy self-concept and stimulating academic inquiry are parallel objectives. Intentionally designed cross-age programs promote role modeling, responsibility, self confidence, and a sense of community. Our location in the Rocky Mountains allows us to integrate the outdoors into the academic and cultural fabric of the school through hut trips, all-school Ski Fridays, and other experiential learning opportunities. The result: our graduates possess a quiet confidence that serves them well in college and in life—confidence to assert themselves in their first college level essays; to raise their hand in a class of hundreds; to live on their own for the first time, to meet with and engage their professors; and to lead among their peers.