Senior Experience projects/internships are planned for in the student's junior year. These projects are solo acts, unless special permission is granted by the faculty advisor/mentor to work with a teammate. Each Academy junior works with a project advisor/mentor to design a unique project based upon the student's interest, ability, and commitment. No matter what the scope, each Senior Experience project must meet certain requirements, including:

  • Adherence to time-line / due dates
  • Survey of Interest
  • Letter of Agreement - Contract
  • Project Proposal - Plan of Action
  • Learning Log
  • Reflection Paper
  • Academic Paper
  • Exit Exhibition
  • Student Assessment
  • Program Evaluations

Time-Line: The Senior Experience program has many components, each critical to its success. General elements are due in the spring of junior year, including one-on-one meetings with the coordinator, interview meetings, project proposals, contracts, etc.

Survey of Interest: In order to bring focus to the internship selection process, a survey is administered in junior year which requires the student to consider his/her internship interests in consultation with parents/guardians. The survey requests a)background information which explains the student's interest in the field, b) a list of professional fields and/or organizations which may be able to provide the desired experience, and c) a brief summary of the student's expectations of the internship.

Letter of Agreement - Contract: Agreements between the school, student, parents, and outside facility are an important and necessary aspect of the Senior Experience. Once internship placement is confirmed verbally, a Letter of Agreement is initiated by the coordinator of the program to the prospective mentor. This contract provides the details of time and place of internship and is sent to the mentor for signature. Also, parents are required to approve their child's participation in the internship via the Parental Release form. Copies of both are kept on file.

Plan of Action: After the student is placed, he/she submits a project proposal delineating specifics, including a full explanation and detailed account of the project, as well as his/her duties and responsibilities as an intern. This proposal is the result of several conferences between the student and his/her mentor and, when completed and signed, the plan becomes a basis of student evaluation.

Learning Log: The Learning Log is a journal recording the weekly aspects of the internship/project and is an extremely important component of the Senior Experience. As the experience begins, a narrative of what is known or assumed about a topic is developed, followed by a personalized tracking of one's involvement in the weekly internship activities. As a compendium of the student's thoughts and activities, the log becomes a valuable reference for the Academic and Reflection Papers which come due at the end of the internship.

Reflection Paper: The Reflection Paper is a vehicle through which students reflect on the entire Senior Experience process - research, experience, growth, frustrations, and accomplishments. It represents a thoughtful piece of writing - introspective and insightful - and provides a critical dimension to the experience.

Academic Paper:Unlike the Reflection Paper which is subjective in nature, the Academic Paper is an objective description/analysis of knowledge gained over the course of the internship. Whatever the area of the project - science, technology, mathematics, humanities or the arts - the Senior Experience must result in the acquisition of new knowledge which is demonstrated formally in one of the following two ways depending on the nature of the project/internship:

  1. Scientific research projects require a scientific paper describing the problem which was investigated and the results achieved. Components of the paper include: an introduction, procedures used to investigate the problem, data collected, results of data, scientific analysis, summary and bibliography. An abstract is published on the Internet (http://www.bergen.org/ACADEMY).
  2. Non-scientific projects require a paper describing the internship organization and include details of the nature of the work accomplished. Components of this paper include: a general description of the profession and its function in our society, an explanation of the technology used within the profession, the structure of the organization, and an overview of the student's specific duties and accomplishments as an intern. An abstract is published on the Internet within the Directory of Internships.

Exit Exhibition: A final, highly personalized presentation before the Academy community and invited guests is one of the highlights of senior year and the final requirement of Senior Experience. In order to be eligible to present at the Exhibitions, the student must have obtained prior approval from his/her in-house faculty advisor that the presentation satisfactorily meets presentation criteria.The entire presentation, including demonstration, is limited to twenty minutes, followed by a brief question/answer period. Participation in this Exhibition is the culminating event of the program and is generally held the end of May.

Student Assessment: The first and second trimester evaluation is based on the student's attendance record, weekly entries in learning log, and feedback from mentor. The final evaluation includes the student's satisfactory completion of reflection paper, academic paper and presentation at the Senior Exhibition. Based on these criteria, final evaluation is reflected on the student's transcript as follows: O=outstanding, S=satisfactory, NI=Needs Improvement, and U=unsatisfactory. A total of 9 credits is earned from the successful completion of Senior Experience.

Program Evaluations: Final program evaluations are distributed to mentors and students at the conclusion of the internship. Feedback from the mentors is a criteria in the student's final evaluation. Students' responses are valuable in assessing the merit of the internship for future candidates.