Capstone Project

A Capstone Project is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students, at the end of the Executive Internship Program. Students are asked to select a topic, profession, or social problem related to the internship experience, conduct research on the subject and create a final product demonstrating their learning acquisition or conclusions (a paper, short film, or multimedia presentation, for example), and give an oral presentation on the project to a panel of teachers, experts, and community members who collectively evaluate its quality.

Capstone projects are generally designed to encourage students to think critically, solve challenging problems, and develop skills such as oral communication, public speaking, research skills, media literacy, teamwork, planning, self-sufficiency, or goal setting—i.e., skills that will help prepare them for college, modern careers, and adult life. The projects are also interdisciplinary, in the sense that they require students to apply skills or investigate issues across many different subject areas or domains of knowledge. Capstone projects encourage students to connect their projects to community issues or problems, and to integrate outside-of-school learning experiences, including activities such interviews, scientific observations, or internships.

While capstone projects can take a wide variety of forms, a few examples will help to illustrate both the concept and the general educational intentions:

  • Writing, directing, and filming a public-service announcement that will be aired on public-access television
  • Designing and building a product, computer program, app, or robot to address a specific need, such as assisting the disabled
  • Interning at a nonprofit organization or a legislator’s office to learn more about strategies and policies intended to address social problems, such as poverty, hunger, or homelessness
  • Researching an industry or market, and creating a viable business plan for a proposed company that is then “pitched” to a panel of local business leaders
  • Developing a marketing plan for a business or organization

Topic and Question

The first step in the Senior Capstone Project is choosing a global problem or issue related to your internship and chosen academy. From this topic, you will develop a research question to guide your study.

Your topic should:

  • Be broad to allow access to enough information, yet specific to make research reasonable
  • Be interesting and somewhat familiar, while still “stretching” you academically and personally
  • Be connected to a global issue that you can study when you travel abroad
  • Be open-ended and fit into one of the following categories:

INQUIRY - poses a question and explores in-depth implications that bring understanding to a social, political, scientific, moral/ethical, or artistic condition.


PROBLEM SOLVING - states a problem, researches its cause and effect, proposes a solution, implements it, and evaluates its effectiveness.


A 1-page written proposal must be approved by your Advisor as well as a parent or guardian.

Your proposal should:

  • Articulate your topic and research question
  • Explain why this is an important question or issue
  • Indicate your prior learning on this topic
  • Discuss how you will demonstrate significant new learning
  • Identify potential textual, electronic, and human resources that may assist you
  • Develop an action plan that outlines your next steps, with anticipated timeline
  • Describe the global component of your topic/question/plan


Research will provide the foundation of your Senior Capstone Project. It will help you make decisions and draw conclusions.

Your research must include:

  • At least 8 credible (recent, reliable, balanced, level-appropriate) sources.
  • Diverse primary and secondary sources (e.g., books, magazines, journals, online databases, newspapers, artwork, films, personal interviews, etc.).
  • An annotated MLA-style bibliography. You must cite any fact or statistic that is not common knowledge, as well as the source of any quote, summary, paraphrase, opinion, or interpretation that is not your own.
  • Annotating a bibliography means that after you give a source citation, you summarize what the source says, and then explain its relevance, or significance, to your project.

For example:

 Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

In this nonfiction book based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Wal-Mart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched. This provides a credible account of the challenges of living on a minimum-wage income.

Your Annotated Bibliography should be typed and submitted with your final Senior Capstone Project.

Written Paper

You will write a 4- to 5- page paper detailing your Senior Capstone Project. More specifically, this paper should include the components below. Note that the structure may look slightly different depending on the nature of the project. Be sure to discuss this with your Advisor.

Topic and question:

  • Why is this area of focus interesting and significant?
  • What did you expect to discover or learn?

Research methods:

  • How did you learn more about this area of focus?
  • What kind(s) of sources did you use, and how did you use them?

Research findings:

  • What did your research reveal?


  • What do your findings mean?
  • What independent conclusions can you draw?
  • What recommendations can you make?

Evaluation (if applicable)

  • Did your proposed solution work?

Reflecting on the Future

  • What next steps need to be taken?
  • What additional research should be conducted?

Multimedia Components

In addition to the written paper, you must submit a relevant multimedia component as part of your Senior Capstone Project.

Examples of multimedia include:

  • Photographs documenting your research process
  • Recorded audio interviews conducted with several individuals
  • Video footage of your proposed solution in action
  • A documentary educating others about your issue
  • A Photo-story to illustrate your evidence and support your conclusions
  • A Power Point outlining your conclusion
  • Poster Board with examples of your conclusion and ideas for improvement

Exact specifications for this portion of the Senior Capstone Project should be discussed with your Advisor.

Technical Requirements

  1. All written components must be typed.
  2. Use a 1” margin on all sides.
  3. Use 12-pt Times New Roman font.
  4. Use 1.5 spacing between lines.
  5. Indent paragraphs; do not add an extra space between paragraphs.
  6. Include a Cover Page formatted as follows:

Project Title
Capstone Project
Your Name
Date Submitted

Place written items in the following order:

  1. Cover Page
  2. Written Project
  3. Summative Reflection
  4. Journal Entries
  5. Check-In Conference Logs
  6. Bibliography

Number your pages. Written paper and Summative Reflection page requirements do not include Title Page, Journal Entries, Conference Logs, Bibliography, or Appendices (as needed).


All Senior Capstone Projects will be presented as part of your final Exhibition. You will have an additional 10 minutes of Exhibition time to describe your research focus, findings, and conclusions. As with all Exhibitions, it is recommended that you rehearse your presentation. A formal defense of the Senior Capstone Project is required. Late Penalty: 20 points will be deducted for each day the project is late.