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The Scarsdale Capstone Project


What do the following have in common - Figure Skating, the Great Depression, cardiology and Niagara Falls? The answer is that they’re scholarly interests of Scarsdale fifth graders. As a culmination of elementary school, every Scarsdale student undertakes a research project in an area of personal interest. This Capstone Project is a way to demonstrate the reading, research, technology and writing skills he or she has developed over the last six years.The Capstone enables students to display basic skills and, beyond that, the critical and creative thinking that are essential in an interdependent world. By building on personal interests, the Capstone also engenders love of learning.


Children identify a topic they want to investigate, then complete an intensive, fully integrated study of the subject. They identify, select and evaluate appropriate resources that include books, Websites, images, documents, and at least one interview and site visit. Next, they investigate their topic. In the final stages of the capstone, children synthesize information and create a product. 

Capstone projects require students to:

• ask meaningful questions

• choose a topic and narrow or abandon it, as appropriate

• take ownership of their learning and demonstrate independence

• reflect, assess and evaluate the research product and process

• employ multiple intelligences

• demonstrate perseverance

• learn project management, time management and planning skills

• use varied media to make presentations

• understand the long term uses of research skills and to appreciate and value these skills as authentic tools

• become more connected to the community