Students Kendra Siddens, left, and Ellen Rice, right, hold an art creation. They are among several Paris High School students who have taken advantage of the opportunity to do independent study. Siddens plans to become a psychologist, and Rice wants to be a nurse practioner. They said art helps them understand more about the beauty that surrounds us and how that may help them in healing others. (Special to The Prairie Press)

Students learn by doing

Paris High School has course opportunities for more progressive and adventurous students to take closer control of their educational possibilities.

While the school was under construction, local administrators worked with a chemistry professor at Eastern Illinois University to create an Independent Research Project Guidebook for students in the fields of math and science. 

Teacher Jamie Wilson is the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) coordinator at high school and is an adviser for students using the STEM classrooms for independent study. This sets a format for the students to work within their chosen projects or studies. So far only upperclassman have participated as the expectations for them to complete the work are rather vigorous. 

Other possible studies such as art, mechanics and agriculture are handled a little differently. Art students must complete each art program and submit a journal explaining their works. 

All students pursuing independent study are advised by a mentor, teacher or a college professor, and the students may work as a group or individually. A journal of their work and a paper with their findings are required. Another requirement for the successful completion of their study is students must also present their findings to the Paris Cooperative School Board or show their projects at the Illinois Junior Academy of Science.

Student Maxwell Holloway, with guidance from adviser Stephen Aydt, of the PHS math department, is developing a computer program to combine and find math applications with chemical equations. The program finds answers to equations that are hard to find exact answers to. 

Holloway worked on this project for 18 months before he found a solution.

Mickayla Wilson has just completed a project as a result of a knee injury that included using a 3-D printer to construct a knee joint with information from her research about the human body and talking to medical professionals. She is now studying to become a physical therapist in college this semester. 

Wilson’s project required meticulously making the appropriate drawing for use by the 3-D printer. The device uses computer aided manufacturing software to make the actual replication of the drawing with the appropriate material. 

Also in the realm of biological science, a study involving six students is doing further research regarding what folic acid does to the gut microbes of C elegans nematodes. Folic acid is

advertised as a needed ingredient by the food and drug industries, and it may help prevent the scourges roundworms inflict on humans. 

The students are replicating trials to help a graduate student at Eastern have enough results to make her study significant. The PHS research team consists of Kyle Bauermeister, Dylan Creech, Laney Ogle, Jonathan Miller, Corey Cearlock and Drew Cearlock.

Three young entrepreneurs have formed a company to manufacture small radio controlled hobby cars. They bought the BoLINK Company, a model car business, and revitalized it. It started when Devyn Brown and his dad, Randy Brown, discussed the possibility of the young man learning more about manufacturing and possibly starting a business. 

Jody Smith, who teaches those classes, was the adviser in charge of coordinating the undertaking and students Zach Hall and Noah Holzer came aboard. Hall and Holzer consider Brown the manager, and they are energetic when talking about their company. 

While these three young men are learning about manufacturing using the latest techniques from computer generated machining and business practices, they regard it as a beginning rather than an end to their education and experience in this field. 

Hall is a junior and aims to keep learning about computer aided design. He plans to get a degree later in mechanical engineering and possibly work as a partner with NAL along the way. 

Holzer graduates this year and is going to Vincennes University to study construction techniques in the building trades. 

Brown is also going to Vincennes University to learn more about computer-aided manufacturing.

Seniors Ellen Rice and Kendra Siddens are pursuing independent art studies, under the sponsorship of art teacher Carrieann Phegley. 

Rice explained she sees more in a face or person than just the outer picture and expresses that idea with drawings depicting half of a face and half of an animal. 

She believes it is important in drawing to present someone with a picture that creates good memories. She also regards art as a good background for her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner and helping with mental and physical wellness. 

Siddens has a great passion for the arts be it in the visual arts, on stage or through music. The art independent study program keeps her spirit renewed in the beauty of life. She aims to study psychology so she can help people solve their problems.

Bryce Kohlmeyer did an independent study last fall working with artificial light on plants. He said the project did not work to perfection, but he learned from his mistakes. This semester his independent research is hydroponics to see how plants grow without soil. Agriculture teacher Krista Howard and John Rosen from Ivy Tech are Kohlmeyer’s mentors. 

Kohlmeyer  has some great looking tomato plants growing on what is called a Rockwell tower using water in little pockets along the side of the small structure. 

He has to monitor the fluids for proper pH and understand how much chemical fertilizer to use. He hopes studying agricultural business and agricultural economics will be beneficial to the family’s business of Becks seed corn and farm supply.

The Prairie Press

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