Throughout the 9th and 10th grades, students collaborate with teams of 10-12 peers with one faculty facilitator. In Mods 1 and 2, students focus on conducting research and generating ideas in pursuit of their Stewardship Committee’s goals. Faculty facilitators and student chairs introduce team members to the design cycle through a fast-paced orientation.


Beginning in Mod 3, students choose from eight different umbrella topics previously selected by faculty facilitators. Through site visits, interviews, and making, students will identify a particular point of contention they would like to move towards change. After ample time to make, test, and iterate, groups will present to a panel of guests at the end of Mod 7. Throughout the year, teams will maintain a project blog where assignments are documented.


  • Skill Share – Create a list of your interpersonal, hands-on, and intellectual skills you might lend to collaborative group work

  • Peer Interviews – Practice the art of interviewing by listening to a peer’s views on campus culture

  • Question List – Generate a list of questions driven by curiosity and contemplation about your group’s topic

  • Fieldwork – Visit a place with a deep connection to your research questions. Take field notes, talk to stakeholders, and document using writing and photos.

  • Research Presentation – Create a group presentation based on the insights you’ve gained from your fieldwork

  • Make a Prototype – Create a physical object that tests out the idea you’d like to implement

  • Field Notes – As you implement your group’s idea, take field notes to document learnings


The 11th-grade Impact Project is an opportunity for students to dive deep into a social or environmental justice issue that they find compelling and to demonstrate ownership over a year-long endeavor.


In Mod 1, faculty lead students through a process of identifying interests and developing a line of inquiry. Depending on selected interests, students will continue through the year working individually or in teams of 2-3 people. Students meet weekly with a faculty mentor who answers questions about the assignments and facilitates activities like research and interview techniques, modeling ideas, organizing data, and crafting compelling presentations.


During Mod 7 students split their time in Costa Rica and on campus preparing for the final steps of their Impact Project. With their attention completely devoted to SIP while in Pasadena, students have the chance to package their Impact Project into an in-depth, engaging presentation.


  • Interest Board – Create a board representing possible research topics, essential questions, and connections to Grand Challenges.

  • Impact Project Proposal – To guide the project throughout the year, write a proposal that articulates differing opinions around your selected essential question.

  • Feedback Roundtable – Over lunch, identify ways to deepen your Impact Project Proposal with a guest and student peers.

  • Op-Ed – Finish the term writing an Op-Ed representing a well-argued point of view on your essential question.

  • Prototype – Model your Big Idea in physical form so others can give you feedback.

  • Implement – Test your idea. Whether it is an event, product, curriculum, or book, see what happens when you allow others to experience it.

  • Project Review – Present your work to a panel of invited guests; and field questions from the audience.

  • Personal Reflection – Write a reflection answering: “What successes and challenges did you face? What might next steps be?”


During the 12th-grade year, students work with a locally based mentor doing work focused on social or environmental justice issues. Building on work done prior to senior year, students gain first-hand experience with the meaning of affecting change at governmental, NGO, non-profit, and grassroots levels. Students have the option to identify a mentor who will help them continue work started in their 11th-grade Impact Project. Regular check- ins with Sequoyah faculty, along with written assignments, give structure to the year and provide opportunities for students to reflect on and critically discuss their work with their mentors. Finally, students showcase their learning at SIP Exhibitions in December and May.

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