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Young experts: Eighth-graders share their research with students
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North Hall Middle School eighth-grader Hyder Hasnain, 14, explains how GPS works Tuesday as part of the Hall County Museum of Inspired Learning. The museum was created by students in the directed studies program. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Charlie faring well

By: Times_Newsroom

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Maggie Seavey is so passionate about dancing that she wanted to share her interests with the rest of the world.

“I love to dance — it’s my passion — but I don’t think enough people appreciate ballet,” said Maggie, a North Hall Middle School eighth-grader.

Like 41 of her directed studies classmates, Maggie turned her interest into a thoroughly researched exhibit, A Step into Ballet, displayed in the temporary Hall County Museum of Inspired Learning in the school’s media center.

“I chose ballet because I think for people to appreciate it, they have to understand it,” Maggie said.

“Ballet really isn’t an easy thing to do, but I think people underestimate it.”

Students in the eighth-grade class were given about a month to research and prepare their exhibits. Instructor Kathy Mellette said the students were given free rein in selecting their topics.

“They could pick any topic that they wanted — anything that was a passion or a subject that they would like to teach,” Mellette said.

Project topics ran the gamut from Suzanne Peck’s dangers of texting while driving to Dakota Carver’s research on women’s rights.

While some students such as Stephanie Armour and Russell Gillespie were inspired by popular crime-scene investigation TV shows; others such as Mason Ellis drew upon their own experiences.

Mason, who has been fishing since he was “3 or 4 years old,” chose to dedicate his researching efforts on his favorite hobby.

“I love to fish. My favorite spot is Wildcat Creek in Rabun County. It’s a good place for trout fishing,” Mason said.

In addition to educating the public about Georgia’s state fish and important equipment to remember, the eighth-grader also discussed environmental threats.

“It’s important for people to remember to clean up after themselves because, say for instance, if you leave a (soda) can on the shore and there’s still some soda left in it. If the soda gets into the water, it can
damage the fish’s environment,” Mason said.

The goal of the directed-studies program is to help students broaden their horizons and to develop a deeper understanding of subject matters. Performing their own research and learning a topic well enough to teach it allows students to build a deeper understanding, Mellette said.

The middle school program is a “mini version” of Hall County’s high school mentorship program, which pairs juniors and seniors with community professionals in the student’s area of interest.

Besides using books and the Internet to perform research, students such as Micayla Thomas and Juli Ann Cain, whose projects both related to babies, spent time at the Gainesville Care Center to learn more about fetus development.

“These are students that have been identified as high-achieving and some are gifted. They all really went above and beyond,” Mellette said. “This has been a year of self-exploration for the students.”

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