The Amazing Projects of ESK Eighth Grade

Have you ever built a computer from scratch? It’s okay, most people haven’t; however, two eighth graders at The Episcopal School of Knoxville did just that.

Josh Martinolich has always been interested in the history of technology. That’s why when it came to choosing a topic for his final portfolio project, he immediately knew what he wanted to do.

So, what is the final portfolio project? For seven years now, ESK eighth graders have been assigned an open-topic research project to complete before graduation. The project requires an essay containing primary and secondary sources, an interview with an expert in the field, a student led community service project and an original artifact that expresses the topic. Students have to work hard and put passion into these projects, and every year the faculty is amazed by the final products.

For Josh’s artifact portion of the project, he built a computer. According to Josh, the logic gate simulator is made of a chess board, metal rings, string and metal hooks. He and a mentor had to screw holes into the chessboard and tie string to weights.

“Depending on how these weights were set up, it would show off a different function of the logic gate,” said Josh. “These functions are the basic calculations that go on inside of a computer.”


Austin Rhea also built a computer. After receiving the parts for a birthday gift in August, he finished building it in September. His service portion was to rebuild computers and donate them to people in need.


Another impressive portfolio project was completed by Graham Monroe. He chose to study the history of the guitar. For his artifact, Graham disassembled an old guitar, scraped off the original paint, primed it, “dip painted” it, reassembled and re-soldered it. His final product looked spectacular.

“For my service project I went to a local nursing home and played guitar for the long-term patients and Alzheimer’s (disease) patients,” said Graham. “ It was a heartwarming experience, and the elderly patients were so happy to see and hear my guitar.”


These two weren’t the only impressive projects; in fact, they all were. Some other artifacts built by the eighth graders included: a wooden model of the Starship Enterprise by Adam Wise, a gaming system made of Raspberry Pi using RetroPi OS by Ryan Steadman, a website based around user designed stages in Super Smash Brothers Brawl and Wii U by Beckham Spiller, a custom gaming PC by Bobby Moran, a five foot double helix and more.

ESK is proud of its students and all of the hard work, passion and creativity put into the final projects!