AP Capstone Comes to Potomac Falls


A new AP class, AP Capstone, will be offered at Potomac Falls starting next year

Next year, a new Advanced Placement (AP) level class will be offered for rising sophomores and juniors. The class, called AP Capstone, is a two-year sequence made up of two AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. Focused on individual research rather than subject specific content, AP Capstone aims to develop students’ skills in research, analysis, evidence-based arguments, collaboration, writing, and presenting, according to the college board website.

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, AP Seminar, the first class of two, will be offered in the AP Capstone program. In AP Seminar, taught by English teacher Jason Walker, students will predominantly do research projects based on subjects chosen by Walker, and then College Board will provide a research framework from which students will create their own research projects. The students will research subjects, write research papers, and present their findings.

“[AP Seminar is] a research-based class in which students are introduced to the process of conducting research and writing research papers and doing presentations of what they’ve learned,” said Walker.

AP Seminar is the prerequisite to AP Research, the second class in the two-year AP Capstone program. AP Research is similar to AP Seminar in that students will be required to research topics, but the topics will be chosen by the students themselves. Taught by social sciences teacher Michaela Ottenberg, students will be able to pursue their own research projects based on their own interests.

“In AP Research, students will be able to conduct their own research project and design their own research project and then pursue it,” said Walker. “Students will have the academic freedom to choose their area of research and their area of inquiry.”

According to Walker, the benefits of the AP Capstone program include learning research, writing, and presentation skills that will hopefully carry on to other high school courses and eventually college. AP Capstone provides an environment which allows students to learn how to conduct and present research. With colleges looking for Capstone projects on student’s applications, AP Capstone is also a great resume builder.

Students who participate in the program have a chance to win one of two different AP Capstone awards: AP Capstone Diploma or the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing receive the AP Capstone Diploma. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research but not on four additional AP Exams receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. Unfortunately for rising seniors, they are out of luck to earn these awards because a full two years of high school is required to complete the course.

For those who complete the course and the AP exam, AP Capstone provides students with the opportunity to earn college credits.

“Students will learn research skills and writing skills and presentation skills that not only connect to their own areas of interest and their own prior knowledge and what they want to,” said Walker.