By Sherri Coner
Thinking outside of the box
By encouraging his students to think far away from that proverbial box, Greenwood High School teacher Kevin Leineweber has watched all six members of his independent research class delve into their interests, develop analytical and research skills and build confidence.
“Many previous students tell me this class and their projects made a huge positive impact on them finishing up high school and being successful at college,” Leinweber said of the class he has offered since joining the Greenwood faculty two years ago.
First, Leineweber spends one-on-one time with each student to guide them toward project decisions. Students identify a project encompassing their interests along with necessary steps to successfully gather all necessary information to complete the project.
As vast as student interests always are in the class, their skill-building experiences are equally as vast.
They polish email writing and telephone skills to reach out and be taken seriously by professionals in the field they want to study. Some students shadow professionals in their particular field of study.
Inspiring career paths
Because John Gries, 18, plans to study mechanical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, he conducted research, spoke to professionals and created an engine design.
He then produced engine parts with a 3D printer.
“I have to sand down all these clear parts,” Gries said. “They are clear, so I can see the other parts in the engine.”
As a devoted reader and a serious artist, Abigail Schout, 18, merged both passions for her project.
First, she wrote a book entitled “The Beauty In the Darkness.”
“It has a fantasy, futuristic vibe,” Schout said.
She then created main character illustrations.
When her book was published, “I was very, very proud,” she said.
When Lily Howe, 18, fell in love with Bob Ross videos, she also discovered a love for painting.
“I really love to paint mountains,” Howe said. “I also love to snow ski. I dream about going to ski in Switzerland.”
For now, she imagines the Swiss Alps while creating mountain peaks on canvas.
“I have done three paintings,” Howe said. “One with a mentor and the others alone. I’ve learned all about blending, and oil, watercolor and acrylic painting.”
In the fall, Howe will study interior design at Purdue University.
Discovering what they love
“This project has helped me discover what I love,” she said.
For more than a decade, Maddie Wells, 18, has studied dance.
“But the only sewing I ever did was on my pointe shoes for ballet,” Wells said.
Designing her own dance costume for a solo performance, including choosing fabric and learning to sew was a huge learning curve, Wells said.
“I have a love-hate relationship with this,” she said with a laugh. “Once I get the rhinestones and fringe on it, then it will be everything I want it to be.”
Opening a dance studio of her own is Wells’ dream.
“I think I want to also design my students’ costumes,” she said.
As he grinned at the odd contraption on a table top, Charlie Jackson, 18, said, “I put 500 hours into this. But it’s been worth it.”
After designing the green plastic track and learning how to utilize mechanical and electrical systems, Jackson created a 3D-printed automatic roller coaster.
“I’ve been a nerd my entire life,” he said. “I also love riding roller coasters and I also like problem-solving. I like the accomplishment.”
In the fall, Jackson will attend the University of Southern Indiana.
With a longtime interest in writing, Mya Ayro, 17, penned a book she entitled “The Blooming of Arabella.”
“I had a bunch of ideas at once, so it was a little bit hard to choose a path,” she said.
Now that she is a published author, Ayro knows one career path that is absolutely not for her.
“I definitely don’t want to be a writer,” she said with a laugh. “I want to be a psychiatrist.”