Projects are a great way for children and teens to get creative and use their skills, knowledge and values in practical ways. Check out these cool school projects and initiatives undertaken by International School students in Singapore.
Australian International School
The Microsoft Asia Headquarters invited the Australian International School (AIS) to participate in its Minecraft competition in March, as part of the launch of a new workspace at Frasers Tower. The task was to create a floor design for the space using Minecraft: Education Edition.
A group of Year 5 students from the school’s coding and design CCA jumped to the challenge and joined the competition. Over the past year, the CCA has been exploring and teaching the learning platform, and it was a great opportunity for the students to put their skills to practice and get some hands-on experience.
With the competition being held during the Circuit Breaker period, it was initially difficult to organise, as the students were working together as a large group of 10. They were eventually split into two teams. The school is proud of the students for working hard through the last weeks of Semester 1 to complete the project. Of the schools that participated, AIS was the only school to see the project through to completion. The final presentation was held at the school’s Coral Dixon Theatre, where the students proudly presented their floor plans to the Microsoft team. The design was selected to be 3D printed and displayed in the Microsoft office.
Canadian International School
Grade 12 students Sheetal and Anusha recently created the CIS Food Bank Committee to raise awareness on the issue of food insecurity in Singapore. According to a 2019 UN report, 4.1 percent of Singaporeans experience high levels of food insecurity. It affects a diverse group of people, from large families with low incomes to the elderly. Sheetal and Anusha were inspired to set up the committee after making several visits to the Singapore Food Bank’s warehouse. While there, they observed first-hand the valuable work the organisation does and volunteered to organise reserves for donations.
The girls raised awareness about food insecurity through various ways including presentations during school assemblies, organising student volunteering opportunities at the Singapore Food Bank, and creating a food donation box (in collaboration with the Singapore Food Bank) at the school’s Lakeside campus. The project taught them people skills and showed them how to adapt and be flexible when obstacles arise – particularly from the effects of the pandemic. They also learnt the importance of setting goals for projects early on as it sets the direction and purpose, allowing them to be as productive as possible.
Dover Court International School
Students at DCIS have been working on an environmental initiative for their international school project. The Bamboo Straws Project is the brainchild of an IB student together with the school’s Student Council Environmental Committee. As more like-minded students came on board, the project grew and moved towards the goal of starting a bamboo straw culture at the school.
A few years back, Dover Court made the move to become a school free of plastic straws, due to the destructive consequences plastic has on the environment. Paper straws were introduced instead. Later, the decision was made to replace the paper straws, as they get soggy once they’re dipped into liquid. This was the genesis of the Bamboo Straws initiative. After extensive research, the project team came across bamboo straws and learnt about their environmentally friendly properties. The students ultimately opted for bamboo over metal due to the reduced environmental impact during the production process.
The project ingrained in the students a sense of responsibility towards the environment and made them realise that human and environmental empathy are two sides of the same coin. Year 13 student Ishita, the initiator of the project, felt that COVID-19 was a disruption disguised as a pause – one that allowed her to rethink her universal values. She feels that it has been a positive opportunity to implement solutions to environmental issues.
Dulwich College (Singapore)
Year 12 International Baccalaureate students at Dulwich College (Singapore) are currently competing in “Project Face Mask”. Focusing on entrepreneurship, the student-led extracurricular initiative was started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Groups of students have been tasked to design, manufacture and market their own face masks. Each group is aiming to generate a profit that will be donated to their chosen social cause.
During the first stage of the competition, students are to create a business plan and pitch their design, financial forecasts and marketing campaign to a panel of teachers and business mentors. While upcycling of materials is a focus of the competition, each group will also be able to apply for seed money as part of their business pitch to bring their idea into production. Stage two involves the development of product prototypes and market campaigns; each group will present their progress to the panel and receive feedback before their designs are produced. The final stage is sales and marketing. Each group will have a four-week period to sell their face masks and generate the most profit for their social cause. Following this, the students will report their performance to the panel, who will use objective criteria (focusing on profitability, creativity, sustainability and teamwork) to choose the competition winners and the “DCSG Entrepreneurs” for 2020-21!
GESS – International School
Students at GESS are paving the way for a culture of resilience, wellbeing and kindness. Connection to school is a primary factor in fostering academic success, resilience in the face of everyday challenges, and the spread of respect and kindness. TOPS@ GESS is a new cross-sectional peer support programme launched this year. Standing for “Trustworthy, Open-minded, Peer Support”, TOPS caters to primary and secondary students. Led primarily by students, it aims to develop leadership skills to foster connectedness amongst students and a sense of responsibility towards what happens in the school environment.
Peer leaders take part in a training process to gain knowledge and practical skills needed to teach resilience-based in-class lessons and provide in-person support to fellow schoolmates during lunch breaks. With the support of facilitating teachers and school counsellors, the peer leaders learn how to structure and develop meaningful and engaging activities as well as lead other students. By encouraging students to look out for each other and fostering a listening community, the school is able to create a positive environment where students feel welcomed and can handle social challenges better.
GEMS World Academy (Singapore)
This past summer, the GEMS World Academy Singapore Student Council decided to take on a service project to build connections with local community groups. President of the Student Council Sam Poder reached out to the Rainbow Centre, an organisation offering education and enrichment for people with disabilities, and support for their families.
Throughout July, the 15 students went through several orientation courses to get certificates that equipped them to work with children with different disabilities. After completing their training, they organised two fun workshops for the children, including singing, dancing, drawing and even fitness activities. Supervising teacher Rae Lei is proud that the students took the initiative and reached out to the centre.
The students didn’t conduct the activities to complete IB requirements but rather they wanted to make connections with others and bring kindness into the world. Some of them were nervous and shy but they pushed on to bring the task to completion. The Student Council has maintained their relationship with the Rainbow Centre so far. To celebrate Teachers’ Day, they collected donations of chocolates, sweets and biscuits to make and deliver goodie bags for the educators at the centre. More events are being planned to develop opportunities for more students to get involved in organising workshops for the Rainbow Centre children.
International Community School (Singapore)
CrossFit KnightNation is a new co-teacher and student led initiative that started at ICS this year. With the addition of a new fitness room at the school, the Middle and High School Principal Darryl Harding, Athletics Director Jeff Wood and a group of students (part of the KnightNation social media team) came together to start the after-school extracurricular programme.
There are five high school students who are part of the programme’s social media team. They do everything from branding and creating designs, to running social media accounts for the school’s Athletics Department. The purpose of the new CrossFit KnightNation programme is to promote fitness, specifically CrossFit training, as part of the athletics offerings at ICS. Denise Muller is one of the social media team members (also part of the CrossFit club), and she feels that it’s rewarding to be a part of an initiative that goes beyond academics as it is not an opportunity that everyone has. Another team member, Jonathan Wood, likes that he can share his opinions and be a part of the decision making process, such as the design for the school’s CrossFit programme logo.
Nexus International School (Singapore)
Nexus International School (Singapore) recently won first place in the Asia Pacific finals of the Junior Achievement Company of the Year Programme (JA COY). It’s been a year since the school’s group of IBDP learners first embarked on their project. They were tasked to set up a company, sell shares to raise capital, research the market, develop and sell a product, and finally liquidate the company. This was done over 12 weeks, under the guidance of experienced mentors including business leaders and Nexus teachers.
Their company, Revival, encapsulates the essence of their work; their first product, the Versa, is a bag that can be worn in three different ways. Made of repurposed canvas banners, the versatile bag is water resistant as well as eco-friendly.
The team initially faced unexpected production setbacks, causing them to fall weeks behind schedule. But they managed to pull themselves together and, in just two weeks, they finalised their product design. Production was outsourced to a local charity, allowing them to give back to the community. The team is currently working on developing new products and business ideas for the JA Global Competition later this year.
Overseas Family School
Two socially conscious Overseas Family School (OFS) students took on a meaningful project over the summer break. 15-year-old Mihika Mishra was particularly concerned about the pandemic’s impact on underprivileged children. She had been involved in Red Cross’s Stories for All, which saw her visiting a little girl’s house weekly to read to her. Due to COVID-19, the programme was halted and Mihika was concerned about how the girl was doing. So Mihika roped in fellow classmate Arsh Sheikh and they recruited a network of volunteer instructors, and designed and launched a platform offering free online classes for children. Arsh felt that he’d had many opportunities to find his passion and wanted to provide a way for less fortunate children to do it for free. Named Explorexa, the site uses Zoom to host fun interactive 45-minute lessons for children aged three to 18. Currently, two to four sessions are hosted weekly, with six to 12 children each time.
Both Mihika and Arsh learnt a lot through the project, including stepping out of their comfort zone, and communicating and collaborating with new people. The teens are working to expand the site to reach out to more low-income families, and they hope to include academic tutoring. They are also more grateful for what they have and hope to do more for others who aren’t as privileged.
St. Joseph’s Institution International
Students at SJI International have taken their commitment to the community to the next level this year. On account of the pandemic, initial plans for service learning were no longer possible; instead, new needs emerged and the restrictions initially looked like obstacles. However, it didn’t take long for students to show their resilience and adaptability, not only in the way they adjusted their learning and lives but in their response to global issues in the “new norm”.
One such initiative was by Grade 10 student Natalie who raised funds for Baan Dada Children’s Home in Thailand, one of the school’s long-term service partners. Located on the border of Thailand and Myanmar, Baan Dada is a home for disadvantaged children, teaching them life skills and also supporting the wider community through local projects such as vaccination programmes and the construction of hospitals and schools. Some of its support comes through donations from volunteer groups, but because of the pandemic, trips have been cancelled – including one by SJI International students. This adversely affected the home’s ability to sustain its activities and programmes.
Natalie started her fundraising campaign through give.asia, with $5,000 as her goal. With support from family and friends, she raised a total of $6,673. All donations went towards helping the home with daily necessities, paying employees and student fees, and also local projects.
Singapore American School
Students at the Early Learning Center at Singapore American School began a research project about recycling in Singapore. They collected over 200 plastic forks and spoons in just three weeks, demonstrating empathy for the natural world. They then prepared a persuasive presentation for Mr Tan who runs the high school cafeteria and convinced him to offer metal forks and spoons to children in the Early Learning Center and spread the word to other parts of the school.
The students’ enthusiasm for environmental protection, along with a deep desire to care for and help others, did not go unnoticed. They extended their passion into practical experiences such as gathering recycled items, composting organic food waste and making their own paper, while they thought about alternative possibilities. And the drive for sustainability didn’t stop in the school cafeteria. Students took the message home to parents, grandparents and siblings, and shared what they learnt with children and teachers in other parts of the school.
Projects like these, which are derived from student interest and inquiry, bring purposeful and positive change to the wider community and environment. The school believes that it’s important for children to shape their own environments, and aims to encourage them to consider and pursue different possibilities of how the community is run.
Stamford American International School
As an IB School, the Grade 10 MYP Design course at Stamford allows students to develop an appreciation for design and innovation, create solutions to real-world problems and develop an appreciation for global society. In the first unit, students learn about issues impacting neighbouring countries and find solutions for them. Some projects include designing a flood-resistant house in Cambodia, creating self-cooling homes to reduce the “Urban Heat Island” effect in Singapore, and developing ideas for an earthquake-proof house in Indonesia. Students learn about environmental issues and create architectural models in their natural habitats. Through the project, students become innovative architects, bringing their designs to life through 3D modelling, laser cutting and 3D printing.
In the MYP, students are encouraged to transfer knowledge to new situations and learn in meaningful ways. Kako, now in Grade 11, used her experience and knowledge from the design course to support a project on Biomimicry (combining geology and engineering to create innovative models). During the past summer, she participated in an online course at Brown University and was challenged with using sustainable architecture to problem-solve. She created a model of an eco-friendly shopping centre ventilation system, adapting infrastructure from termites to create a building that mimics their ventilation system. It included a large cafeteria made of a material that imitates the skin of the Saharan silver ant, keeping the building cool while expelling heat.
Tanglin Trust School Tanglin
Students Nitya Tandon and Tanvi Wadekar (Year 12), Tarini Bengani (Year 11) and Ila Kumarasinghe (Grade 10, SJI International) have been friends for many years as they used to live in the same condo. The girls learnt about the Citi-YMCA Youth For Causes programme and thought it would be great to work together to support a meaningful cause. They chose to support the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) as they felt that COVID-19 has compounded the hardships of the children and their families. So they decided to organise a virtual concert called Hope on the Horizon to raise awareness about childhood cancer.
The students contacted classmates, friends and family to find people who would be interested in performing. In the end, they were able to get over 40 student singers from around the world on board, plus local artistes Inch Chua, The Moon House and Andrew Paul Chen. After collecting videos from these contributors, they edited them to create a 2.5-hour concert. Two team members put together the video, while the others created graphics to promote the concert. Radio Masti 24×7 Live even did an interview with them about the event!
Overall, they were overwhelmed by the support received and donations raised. And, in organising Hope on the Horizon, they learnt how to manage their time and improve their communication skills while also gaining tech skills through putting the video together, live-streaming it on YouTube and promoting the event on social media.
The Grange Institution
When it comes to Children’s Day, most schools make it a special day for their own students, emphasising how much they value, love and care for them. The Grange Institution (TGI) wanted their students to remember other children in need instead.
TGI’s Cre8tors-in-Action educational philosophy actively promotes key competencies such as service leadership, teamwork and partnership, as well as important values such as gratitude, empathy, compassion, generosity, responsibility and love. So, this year, the school began a partnership with Love, Nils, a charitable organisation established to support children with cancer and their immediate families.
TGI organised a toy donation drive where parents and students had the opportunity to donate new toys to bring joy and cheer to young cancer patients. Teachers and students also wrote individualised messages to either a doctor, nurse, parent or patient to express love and words of encouragement. It was a different kind of Children’s Day for the students. TGI’s passion is working for the interest of all children, so the school is honoured to have found a passionate partner like Love, Nils.
This article first appeared in the November 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!