IMPp stands for Inquiry, Making, and Passion project. Each week on Monday and Thursday mornings, all Upper School students (currently in grades 6 – 12) have a block of independent-work time for their projects, with scheduled assistance from a staff mentor. These projects are substantial long-term undertakings; past examples have included researching & writing a literature review, a theatrical production, a service project, a dance, woodwork constructions, lab experiments, designing & developing a video game, and many others.
Our mission is to facilitate the planning, execution, and documentation of student projects, allowing them to gain knowledge and skills while developing their Core Capacities. The program encourages students to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit, learn socially, and reflect in action as they embark on a journey of exploration, experimentation and organization to achieve their goals with intention and support. The key phases of the IMPp journey include brainstorming in a step-by-step organizer, developing a project plan, project management tasks, documenting their creative process and obstacles, and presenting their work to their peers and the school community.
Through this project management learning experience, students have opportunities to experiment with unfamiliar ways of managing their time, materials, and goals. Each project’s type, content, scope, and duration are designed by the student with guidance from a mentor. With expertise in a variety of fields including robotics, linguistics, life sciences, event-planning, fabric arts, and more, Acera staff serve as mentors who help students reflect on and fine-tune these experiments, to more effectively pursue their individual goals. This IMP Process Flowchart shows the main steps of the experience.
Many projects are completed within half of the school year, though some are planned to take longer. Occasionally, projects have spanned over a year, with students working on them outside of school and even during the summer; some of those culminated in presentations at community events or professional conferences. Twice a year, Acera hosts “IMPposium,” a student exhibition showcase which welcomes Acera families, staff, and community members to celebrate students’ works-in-process and learn about the winding road to their accomplishments.
As a parent or guardian, you can aid our mission by reinforcing and celebrating its emphasis on student-driven work, giving your child the chance to experiment, “fail-forward,” and practice a variety of essential skills.
Kei Phillip is Acera’s Mindfulness & Movement Specialist Teacher. She also manages the high school transition process for Acera students.
Danny Fain is Acera’s Computer Science & Game Design Specialist Teacher.