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 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. 

What are Capstone Projects?

Empowering 8th graders at Duke School with unprecedented academic freedom, our Capstone Projects cultivate a unique space for students to explore, create, and present a project entirely shaped by their passions. This unique opportunity allows them to delve into self-directed inquiry, fostering independence and intellectual curiosity – a level of agency typically reserved for university settings. It's a transformative experience where young minds blossom into confident, creative thinkers. Watch to discover how our students leave us more than ready for any challenge or opportunity. 

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 2023

  • Artificial Intelligence: Pushing progress or pulling the plug 

  • Why Can't I Be "Just Me:" The study of code switching and its effects

  • The Real Rules of Comedy: The science behind comedy and laughter 

  • The Pressure of Perfection: A look into how Olympic level athletes train, the challenges they face, and the sacrifices they make  

  • Approaching Life on the Bench: A look into family law 

  • Let's Talk: Examining how children acquire and develop language 

  • Art from Ashes: A deeper dive into charcoal

  • How (Not) to Get Away with Murder: Learning how to write a compelling mystery novel 

  • Tongue Trials: Understanding the science behind taste

  • It's All in Your Head: How illusions affect your brain

Explore the Eighth Grade Experience

Project work

Middle school

Portrait of a DS Alum