Each November, Hartsbrook high schoolers take a break from their typical Main Lessons to engage in Project Week, an opportunity to engage in creative pursuits of their choice. Students were involved with blacksmithing, cooking and baking, music production, robotics, and creating a zine!

At Hartsbrook, our aim is to help students find their passion, both in and out of the classroom. Project Week is an annual tradition that reminds students there is just as much to be gained from exploring a new interest as there is from their academic pursuits. Through battling robots, composing and producing original music, or finding an image or poem that expresses an inner feeling, our students poured themselves into meaningful pursuits and reminded us that even just a week spent taking a break from the typical grind can not only be fun and rewarding, but can have lasting impacts.

Robotics

In Robotics, students worked through a series of challenges to learn coding fundamentals while programming their robots to move, deliver packages, and navigate using light sensors. Each day, we learned about real-life robots, discussed programming tips and tricks, and, most importantly, spent time “training” our Sparki robots to complete the challenges. As a grand finale, students could choose to program their robots to compete in a game of “messy backyard,” a game where the robot must detect debris and push it into their opponent’s space, in front of an audience of the entire high school.

Music Production

Music Production started by going over the basics of recording and the equipment involved. Students were then split into two groups, where we gave them the challenge of creating their own songs. For the challenge, the songs must include a human voice, a sample, a unique sound, and could be recorded with both MIDI instruments and analog microphones. It was great fun! Lots of teamwork, inspiration, and problem-solving occurred, and the end results sounded awesome! A highlight was our visit to the UMass Theater Dept. recording studio, where we worked with a professional recording engineer and even wrote and recorded a song on the spot!

Cooking & Baking

This year, students who chose Cooking & Baking tackled their most ambitious menu yet, experimenting with a different cuisine every day of the week. On Monday, students made homemade fettuccine, learning techniques to roll by machine and hand, along with a

family tomato sauce recipe and pistachio-almond biscotti. On Tuesday, in honor of Diwali, they tried their hands at Tikka Masala, naan bread, chai lattes, and Nankhatai cookies. On Wednesday, students experimented with Asian fusion, making ramen and made-from-scratch dumplings—wrappers included! The beautiful weather on Thursday allowed students to make a small Mexican picnic for the high school, complete with tamales, Mexican rice, and Tres Leches. To complete their Project Week, students participated in the 1st Annual Great Hartsbrook Cake Off, during which a panel of student judges weighed in on the aesthetic and culinary merits of the five different cupcakes our students designed, baked, and decorated. It was a truly memorable and delicious experience for us all!

Get the Ramen Recipe!

Jen Curtis, who led Cooking & Baking, shared the delicious Ramen recipe that students made during Project Week. Thanks Jen! Download the recipe.

Blacksmithing

Typically, by this time of the year, every student in the High School at Hartsbrook has taken at least one Blacksmithing class in the forge. This Project Week course was an opportunity to expand on and apply the skills learned in that course to new projects. Students spent time experimenting with new and learned techniques to work on projects of their own creation.

Zine-Making

Zine-Making was an opportunity for students to make and create unique DIY (do it yourself) book objects. Beginning with an introduction to zine culture and a survey of different types of zines, students had daily projects in writing and art to help build an individual vision for their zine. Students could explore different materials, print methods, binding methods, poetry, and prose. Each left the week with a one-of-a-kind artistic zine filled with poems, collage, color, and personality all their own. We hope to have this run again in subsequent years to build our own Zine library of these beautiful book objects!


More Hartsbrook High Project Week Details

For one week in November, in place of main lesson, we pursue a special project in mixed-grade groups. We offered students a list of nine options: Animal Care, Bicycle Maintenance, Blacksmithing, Cooking & Baking, Food Forest, Music Production, Robotics, Survival Center, and Zine. This list was compiled based on student interest and faculty ability to sponsor the project. Students ranked their top three choices in order of preference, and the programs above are what came out on top.