Eighth Grade Capstone Project

During their final year on campus, our eighth-grade student leaders are ready to take on their final project at Duke School, The Capstone Project.

Our project-based program builds intentionally as students move through each grade, culminating in students’ final project in the eighth grade: The Capstone Project.  Every graduate leaves a lasting mark on our school and history through this signature project.

Harnessing the skills and knowledge gained during their time at Duke School, our eighth-grade students have the agency and authority to fully design and execute their final project on campus. Students spend three months independently developing, researching, and sharing their project work built on a topic entirely of their choosing.

Alumni reflect that the skills developed during this work feel most similar to their collegiate work, and the tools they develop working on this project shape their research and investigative skills for life.

Duke School graduates are composed, confident, and ready for any challenge to come in the future that is impossible to know but not impossible to shape. 
Three students sitting inside of a classroom of a middle school in Cary NC

Capstone project reflections...

By carrying out their Capstone Project, students feel the joy and responsibility of tackling a task of great scope and depth. At each juncture, students exercise autonomy: from discerning a topic from among their varied interests, to figuring out how to make an impact with their new knowledge and skills, to presenting their discoveries, their process, and what they would do with more time to explore.

And for many students, projects endure: every year, several students visit with current eighth-graders to demystify the process and to testify to the power inherent in crafting their own project.

Bob robinson, middle school director

Enjoy your last project at Duke School. Think about what knowledge and skills you can take with you: research, confidence with public speaking, perseverance through tedious work, experience talking with experts and adults, writing, and finally, your ability to reflect.
You're doing your Capstone project for a reason, and you're going to be spending a lot of time on it, so think about the best way this project will serve you. In the end, you are getting a handful of skills that will serve you beyond the Duke School classroom.
The Capstone is your final chance to create a toolkit that will set you up for all your future endeavors. You don't quite realize everything you learn from Duke School until after you graduate.
Duke School Alum, Class of 2019

Eighth Grade Project Work

A selection of capstone project topics from the Class of 2022

  • Brick by Brick: Why you never grow out of LEGOs

  • Tyranny, Treason & Terror: Misunderstandings of the Syrian Civil War

  • Can you bottle the sun? Fusion Energy and how it could change the future

  • The Thousand Dollar Hoodie: How streetwear has risen to the top of the fashion industry

  • The Past, Present, and Possibilities: The influences of African-American musical genres on music today

  • Sleep On It: The science behind sleep research 

  • Cooking with the Melting Pot: What are the stories of immigrants and their foods in Durham?

  • Get Me Outta Here! Escape Rooms and what they teach us about teamwork 

  • The Balance of Beans: The background and ethics of coffee

  • More Than Just Music: How hip hop is used as an outlet for social commentary 

Explore the Eighth Grade Experience

Project work

Middle school

Portrait of a DS Alum