PARIS — Hundreds of students, their families and others celebrated the first trimester of themed learning at Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris on Tuesday night.

From the creation of eco-friendly homes to rocket ships and spacesuits, about 160 seventh- and eighth-graders displayed their projects.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Assistant Principal Tara Pelletier said.

Students were grouped by grade level to work on projects, she said. One group studied Mars while another studied design of an eco-friendly house. Another group learned about town government.

“I traced my friend,” said Alora Gordon, a seventh-grader who designed an astronaut suit for the Mars project.

Another seventh-grader, Thatcher Cormier, make a Mars rover using a silver colander for a satellite on the front of the vehicle, lots of aluminum paper and duct tape. One of the research tools he used was the Moon rover.

Eighth-grader Kenzie Kahkonen designed a three-story, eco-friendly house with lots of big south-side windows and brown paint to draw the warmth of the sun.

Each student was challenged to choose, analyze, collaborate, discuss, plan, design and create their projects. Students contacted professionals, ranging from Yarmouth astronaut Chris Cassidy to local realtors.

“They all really got into it,” math teacher Kyle Morey said.

The weekly classes were so engaging student attendance “went through the roof,” Pelletier said.

Students said their assignments were hard but rewarding.

“It stressed me out at first, but the harder it was, the more I got to experiment and learn,” said Della Connors, an eighth-grader who created Rocky Mountain Real Estate in Montana to design and sell an eco-friendly house that took advantage of geothermal, wind and biomass heating.

“It’s more than just a science fair,” Principal Troy Eastman told SAD 17 directors Monday night. He said it’s a “student-driven approach.”

“They were pretty much in charge from the ground up as far as how they did this,” he said.

The celebration continues at Oxford Middle School in Oxford from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Projects involving the humanities and visual and performing arts will be showcased.

Middle school students will rotate to a new themed learning experience and, in some cases, a new campus when the second trimester begins Dec. 2.

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