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STEM School Seniors Shine
STEM School Seniors Shine
Posted on 01/11/2018
Students at the Nesbitt Discovery Academy delivered truly impressive presentations during the school's first Senior Project night!By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Department

There’s only one place in Asheville to see a talking mechanical barn owl, organic irrigation systems, mixed martial arts, and a fresh analysis of Amelia Earhart’s historical flight. Senior Project night in all BCS high schools is a time when students come together to provide innovative solutions for today’s world, conclusions of in-depth research, or new takes on classic questions, as they prepare for life after graduation.

At the Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. Discovery Academy on January 9, students waited eagerly to walk into the classrooms where they would present their work. It was the culmination of months of dedication. They were seen clutching their laptops tightly, reviewing their notes, and making final tweaks to their machines or prototypes. These were the first Senior Project presentations since the Discovery Academy began in 2014.

“They’ve been impressive from the start,” said Principal Nathan Allison, who recalled seeing the students walk through the door as freshmen just a few years ago.

Following the evening’s presentations, he was most impressed by his students’ professionalism and deep knowledge of a variety of subjects. At the Academy, every senior is required to do an internship their senior year, and these internships give students an inside look at real industries in our region, from farming to audio recording, or dental science to aeronautical engineering. Students then chose their topics based on what inspired them from their internships and classwork.

Senior Lauren Ballard’s internship with The Collider, a local climate science center, inspired her to design a custom carbon emissions testing module for airplanes. John Inman used his newly gained computer programming skills to design a unique tool he described as “a website that subscribes to other websites.” Right after John finished his presentation, he stood in the hallway looking both proud of his work and relieved.

“This is the biggest thing I’ve ever created as an independent programming project,” Inman said. “I think it went pretty well. I think the only worry I have is that I didn’t get across how hard it was to make what I made, because web development always looks a lot easier on the outside than it does on the inside.”

John Pruett served as a volunteer panelist for some of the projects, while his daughter Molly presented her work in another classroom. Molly interned with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and discussed her project using climate data to search for the remains of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft.

“It’s an amazing opportunity through Buncombe County Schools to have this innovative and very forward-thinking program for motivated students,” Pruett said of his daughter’s years at Nesbitt. “It really focuses on the talents, inclinations, and interests of the students.”

At the end of the evening, Science teacher John Mizell stood in the school’s atrium by Mr. Allison, proud to see the success of their first class of seniors.

“It has been really exciting seeing them do simple projects one year and then moving up to more complex projects the next year,” Mr. Mizell said. “Now they are developing something innovative, something new, and they are combining it with what they feel passion about and something they can see themselves doing in the future.”

Visit the Martin L. Nesbitt Discovery Academy website.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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