The college in our town has a requirement of its students that I think is just fabulous.
Students must complete a senior project to graduate. The project can be completed as an individual or group, but it entails taking the knowledge learned from general studies and combining it with the knowledge they’ve learned from their field of major to demonstrate what has been truly learned during their four years at college.
Every year the school hosts a Senior Showcase where those student projects selected as the “best of the best” display their masterpieces. I attended the showcase recently for the first time and was amazed at what these kids are doing.
There were the more simplistic projects such as an education student explaining how to teach math to elementary students and a geography student who researched the habitat preferences of a box turtle to the more complicated projects such as a team of 15 engineering students that developed a system to reuse residential waste water.
A history major did his project about a research room on campus (that I wasn’t even aware of) for the study and preservation of the atomic research and development (referred to as the Manhattan Project) that took place in this area during World War II.
But what caught my eye was the project of three computer science students. They built a kit that can be attached to any stationary bike, elliptical machine or treadmill that connects to any computer. When the computer accesses Google Earth, the kit allows the bike to interact with Google Earth so “exercisers” can walk or ride through any location on Earth. Buttons that are affixed to the handle bars allow the person riding to make left or right turns.
Think about what this does! You can walk your way across the Great Wall of China or pedal your way down Broadway Ave in New York City – minus the traffic. Take a bike ride through the trails of your favorite park or walk on your treadmill through the hills of San Francisco. The possibilities are endless and what a fun way to exercise.
During the demonstration at the showcase, a college friend “model” was pedaling her way through Disney World to the amazement of a seven year old visiting the showcase. It was just as we were right there with her travelling down Main Street and past Cinderella’s castle. Quite amazing!
The trio entered their project into a campus entrepreneurial club and won second place for their invention – why they didn’t receive first place is beyond me. But through the school, the students were also connected with local entrepreneurs who are assisting the students with marketing their product.
What a grand combination of student innovation and education!