Seniors Cap Yearlong Projects with Virtual Symposium
Posted 04/26/2020 07:38PM

One highlight at Bullis every spring is the Signature Programs Symposium, where seniors showcase the results of their yearlong capstone projects. Last week and this week, Bullis seniors are continuing the tradition, sharing their work in each of Bullis's four Signature Programs: Entrepreneurship, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), Humanities & Global Studies, and Visual & Performing Arts.


Signature Programs are part of the Bullis K-12 education, beginning with the Lower School experience. Student exposure to the programs broadens each year with increasing opportunities for independence, research, and discovery, culminating in an optional yearlong capstone project for seniors. The capstone allows students to go beyond the curriculum to designintensive, meaningful projects. They work in close collaboration with a mentor, following the structure and pacing of a year-long class. 


When Bullis shifted to remote learning, the question became how to make the symposium remote. Soon the concept of the virtual symposium took shape.

"I am always impressed by the excellent work of our Bullis students," said Head of School Gerald L. Boarman, Ed.D. "This year, our senior capstone students in the Virtual Signature Programs Symposium showed great creativity in their projects and resourcefulness in presenting their work remotely. They all deserve our congratulations, along with the excellent staff who supported and mentored them. We are proud of all of our seniors, and this symposium is a great way to celebrate that."

In fact, the preparation for a remote symposium added a valuable educational component to the capstone. "Because students have had to distill their year-long work, both process and content, into a five-minute video presentation, this virtual experience has allowed them precious time to reflect and take stock of their learning from the process," said Lisa Vardi, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning.


The symposium began with the annual Shark Tank competition when four teams of Bullis seniors pitched the business plans they've been developing all year in Bullis's first-ever livestreamed Shark Tank. Three prominent business leaders volunteered to judge the competition: Bluemercury CEO Marla Beck, CAVA CEO TK TK, and AND1 founder and CEO Seth Berger comprised the panel. They judged each pitch on its business viability and the students' entrepreneurship method of prototyping, market testing, and revision. The winning team was awarded $10,000 in start-up funding, sponsored by XML Financial, the Shark Tank's long term sponsor. 

Students presented four business ideas:

  • ECommunity, a shopping tracker that tracks eco-friendly purchases
  • Oak Financial, a mobile app that helps teens learn financial literacy to increase and track savings, 
  • Rise and Shine, a patent-pending alarm clock, embedded in your mattress that only turns off once you get out of bed, and 
  • Sice Me, an online marketplace for high schools and colleges that enables students to sell and receive non-essential goods.

Each student team recorded a pitch video, then walked the judges through their business plan, the development of their idea, and their plans for using invested money before taking questions. The judges asked probing questions and made suggestions to each team before announcing Sice Me as the 2020 Shark Tank winner.

Montgomery Community Media covered the Shark Tank. Their video began, as did the Shark Tank, with good wishes from Mark Cuban, a venture capitalist and a shark on ABC's Shark Tank. 


Two days later, seven artists displayed their Visual and Performing Arts capstone projects. They created a five-chapter comic book, a one-act play, three different series of visual art, a set of recorded and sound-edited original songs, and an illustrated anthology of one student's creative writing. That work is displayed on websites created by each student, and linked here in the Signature Programs Symposium program, where you can also find recordings of each livestreamed session of the Symposium.

Each student invited one to two guests to appear on the webcast live to ask questions and comment on the capstone work.

"We really wanted to honor the extraordinary work of our seniors who over the last year put much time and effort into their projects," said Vardi.

So, for capstone students in Visual & Performing Arts, STEM, and Humanities & Global Studies, organizers created what Vardi described as an opportunity "for each student to receive feedback in real-time from individuals who they believe had strong connections to their projects."

That is how viewers came to learn how performing covers of popular songs helped Trip Pate develop his distinctive sound, hear about Fiona Caulfield's joy at spending a year with her comic book characters, and picture Margaret Gilbert's unique challenge of remotely staging her excellent one-act play, Learning to Drive. 

It's not too late to watch a livestream or recorded livestream of the symposium presentations. Humanities & Global Studies and STEM students will present their work over the next week.

► The entire program is here, and the lineups for this week are also below. We hope you'll join us.

2020 Senior Capstone Virtual Symposium Program 

Session 3-5

Monday, April 27, 2020 - Humanities & Global Studies, STEM 

Click here for the live stream at 10 am

Jake Goldberg: More Than a Field: Investigating the Global Power of Sports (HGS)

Amari Beach, Zoe Jackson, Aliyah Muhammad: The Effectiveness of Kinesiology Tape on Pain, Swelling, and Support (STEM) 

Alex Skoufias: The Impact of Fast Fashion: Initiating Conscious Consumerism (HGS)

Shannon Dunwell: Holographic Image Producer (STEM)

Madison Norman & Azariah Reid: Post-Op Vitals: Monitoring Dogs After Surgery (STEM)

Nick Karayianis: Dome Home: Designing Houses for the Homeless (STEM)

Marianna Anagnostou & Ruby Schreiber: Amplifying Equality: Gender Equity in Schools (HGS)

Joe Penovich: NoDelay: A Time Management App for Students (STEM)

Session 4

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 - Humanities & Global Studies, STEM 

Click here for the live stream at 10 am

Ashleigh Taylor: Low-Cost Electric Bike (STEM)

Tasmia Rahman: The Power of the Youth's Voice (HGS)

Jerry Qian: Personalized Quizlet: Machine Learning (STEM)

Gus Weiner: The Red Carpet: A Book of Persona Poetry (HGS)

Chloe Urofsky: The Coral Bleaching Epidemic (STEM)

Mark Williams: "Out of the Dark, Into the Light" - a Cinematic PSA Video on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Teenagers (STEM/VPA

Arianna Khoshkhou: Women's Rights in Iran (HGS)

Session 5

Thursday, April 30, 2020 -Humanities & Global Studies, STEM

Click here for the live stream at 2 pm

Bethany Smith: What About the Cup? Investigating Ocean Plastics (HGS)

Charlotte Helmig: Bridging the Communication Gap in Caretaking (STEM)

Victor Vasilian: The College Admissions Race and Teen Mental Health (HGS)

Danielle Dyer: ACL Injury Risk Reduction in Female Athletes (STEM)

Maddie Hammer: Breaking the Silence: Defeating the Stigmatization of Mental 

Health Through Active Listening (HGS)

Sarah Taylor: The ToolBox: An App for Tracking Moods (STEM)

Gianna DeHerrera: Solutions, Not Stigma: The Opioid Crisis in America (HGS) 

Will Green: The Glove: Preventing Soft Tissue Injuries (STEM)



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