The Capstone Experience Project at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science

At West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science, we pride ourselves on providing unique environmental-science focused education to our students. As a K-12 school, our students are instilled with the necessary character traits and environmental themes from beginning to end. For over a decade, we have asked our seniors to do a capstone project that incorporates research and formal presentation to our community.


As long time students of an environmental science focused school, they could showcase what their unique education taught them. Since 2007, the program has changed significantly alongside its instructor, Leanne DeYoung. It transitioned to a science-focused project that allows students to research any topic they are passionate about.


This project has been a focal point for our students’ environmental science education, and has produced amazing results over the years. For instance, a couple years ago a student looked into the issues related to unsafe ingredients in cosmetics, and ended up creating her own brand of lip glosses and scrubs with simple and safe ingredients. She even prepared a batch for her presentation.


Just last year, a student saw an issue with the lack of financially-based education in school curriculums, and wrote to the Department of Education. They discussed how this causes financial stress for young people on things like savings accounts, mortgages and credit card debt, even working with a local bank to revamp the financial course at WMAES.


Instructor of the course and director of the project Leanne DeYoung said, “There is so much diversity in the student body at WMAES, and being able to watch these seniors really dig into the things they are most passionate about is a true joy. They deserve to learn this in a safe environment where they’re supported and encouraged by teachers, and walk out into the real world as empowered individuals.”