Can high school channel your teen’s passions? That’s the whole point of International Baccalaureate (IB) Personal Projects.
I have vague recollections of a group project I completed in my sophomore year of high school. It involved a poster board, a bland write-up about radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi and a prop – my dad’s bedside AM/FM clock radio – to show exactly how far radio technology had come.
Luckily, things have changed. Students today can choose to research topics that interest them, such as cryptocurrency, being a third culture kid and building a sustainable future. These are all actual topics chosen for IB MYP Personal Projects by Stamford American International Singapore students in 2019.
Personal Projects form part of the IB Middle Years Programme – they’re a requirement of Grade 10 students in IB programmes around the world in order to graduate with an IB Diploma. But what exactly is involved? Towards the end of Grade 9, students are encouraged to think about topics that they are passionate about. What would they like to learn more about beyond the classroom environment? In Grade 10, they set a goal on their chosen topic and develop a product to progress that goal. During the year, students keep a journal of their work. The IB requires students to spend a minimum of 25 hours on their Personal Projects (though many students spend much more) in addition to their regular classwork. Lastly, students write an essay that is assessed and moderated both internally at SAIS and externally by the IB.
The goal of Personal Projects is to teach students how to use the inquiry process to solve real-world problems. It’s an opportunity for students to explore their passions through the principles they’ve learned through the Middle Years Programme. For example, students develop self-management skills by setting and meeting their own deadlines, research skills by exploring the history and depth of their chosen topics, and social and communication skills when they invite community feedback towards their projects’ completion.
At SAIS, students display their Personal Projects during an annual exhibition. The community is invited to discuss and engage the students as well as to celebrate their accomplishments. For many students, this is a much-anticipated opportunity to drive action and create awareness on topics that are deeply personal to them.
Other Personal Projects exhibited at SAIS this year include:
• Music as a Language
• The Magaña Cookbook
• Cambodian Mythology Through Clothing
• Building a Beginner’s Guitar
• Guide to a Start-up Hotel Business
• Making a Director’s Notebook
• Herbal Utopia
See more in our school section