Senior Capstone Projects Wow

What happens when you focus student passions and interests through the lens of experiential education and engage real-world experts as mentors? Fountain Valley calls it Senior Capstone. Through this program, which is now a requirement for all seniors, students have the exciting opportunity to choose a subject that interests them and take it to the next level as shown by Morgan Tran ’20 and Lily Bauer ’20 who are highlighted in this story.

Morgan Tran ’20: Biology Through 3D Animation

Morgan Tran initially set out to learn animation and produce a short film, but soon pivoted.

“My project switched directions quite drastically,” Tran says. Rob Gustke, who oversees the Senior Capstone program, talked to her about his connections with animators and introduced her to his friend Dr. Don Ross who retired from medicine and spends much of his time creating 3D animations that illustrate complex biological processes. She was fascinated by the intricate details in his animations and decided that she wanted to learn to do the same.

Over several weeks, Ross and Tran collaborated through both in-person and virtual meetings. Ross first shared an animation of thousands of red blood cells moving through a vessel. Morgan dissected the file to learn how the Cinema 4D animation program works and built her own blood vessel animation seen here.

Morgan next set out to create a generic cell model that showed granules and a nucleus with 23 pairs of chromosomes seen below.

Tran hopes to use these skills to create a short animated film that illustrates a cellular process at a basic level for a younger student audience. “I want to specifically look at how to use alternative methods of communication in education,” she says.

You can see all of Morgan's animations and her complete project on her Capstone website by clicking here.

Lily Bauer ’20: Interactive FVS Histories

Bauer dove deep into the Fountain Valley archives guided by Jake Emery ’71 who taught history at FVS for decades and now serves as the School’s archivist.

I was interested in exploring how the physical environment of FVS contributes to its identity and function and want to use this project to make an impact on the FVS community to help preserve the atmosphere that makes such an amazing school work.

Lily focused primarily on the School’s buildings, researching the history of each. She created a QR code for each building that takes you to a description and photos. The plan is to post the QR codes on each building, but this task was interrupted by the pandemic and is intended to be completed during the 2020-21 school year. Lily’s work will also be used to expand the School History section of the FVS website.

Lily hopes that freshmen will embrace this as a resource to learn more about the School and advises, “Use this as a way to understand that this new school you are at is more than you know, and the more you understand what it means, the more you will value your education within this space...this is a tool for you to connect your life to a greater history.”

Bauer also compiled a collection of archival photos that illustrate how life at Fountain Valley was different then and how it remains the same. “Holding these photos from so long ago and seeing how different yet similar the School is made me see everything on campus from a different perspective,” she says.

“I am so glad that I had this project through this time,” she says. “I learned so much about myself and how important it is to be considerate of the past, present and future, not just on campus but in the world as a whole.”

You can view her capstone project here.
FVS is a private, college-preparatory, co-ed, day and boarding school for grades 9-12 in Colorado Springs.
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