Project performance

Ash Thomas, Staff Writer

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Students in TPSP experience real life careers

It has been described as a first glance into the future. It is a bit like dipping one’s toes in the water to get a feel of the temperature, like taking a tentative first bite of something to have a little taste. It is a class called TPSP, or Texas Performance Standards Project, and it is a foundation course for potential occupation.

“TPSP is an independent studies class,” junior Rebekah Porter said. “You get to pick your own topic of interest and throughout the year you get to do research and create a final product associated with the thing you’ve studied.”

Students, who went through an application and approval process, are doing all sorts of things for their project, from fundraising and founding organizations to writing songs and books.

“I am working on designing, programming and hopefully publishing a video game,” senior Cody Nechamkin said.

Nechamkin got his idea from his long time love of video games, claiming it only felt natural to make one.

“I’m creating the game through a program designed for programming games called Unity,” Nechamkin said. “I have asked for a lot of help from people who have already published games.”

Porter was inspired and is creating something that she hopes will make a difference for girls everywhere.

“I’ve been researching gender stereotypes in the toy industry and I’m creating a toy line for young girls that will give them the opportunity to explore careers that aren’t marketed towards them,” Porter said. “I got really angry at the lack of diversity in the girls toy aisle. Rather than conditioning girls to love pink and girly things, I wanted to give them options. Young girls deserve more. They shouldn’t be limited to what the toy industry wants to sell them.”

The class is very unconstrained and the students are free to do their own research at their own pace as long as they meet a few check points along the way, set by their teacher Amy May.

“It’s the best class I’ve taken because it allows us to explore something we’re interested in while also providing valuable skills for research and connecting to people,” Porter said.

Both students have found help from experienced people in the business and have had to interview them for more information.

“I’m interviewing people in a variety of careers from engineering to journalism and creating toys for each career,” Porter said. “[The toys] will be in box sets with hands on activities and books giving girls a further insight into the certain career.”

At the end of the school year, the students all present their projects and findings along with a binder they compiled.

“We give a 45 minutes speech after school to a panel of judges and an audience, and we discuss our research progress and project. The judges then score our presentation and binder,” Porter said.

The class has helped the students to decide what they want to do in life by giving them a taste of the real world, and opening their eyes to a possible life-long career.

“The biggest advantage of being in the class is that you can get a preview almost of what a certain profession would be,” Nechamkin said.

He gives one bit of advice to anyone who is interested in being in it.

“Procrastination will destroy you in this class.”

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