As we understood from Nachiket that his personal project was not needed to be only his effort throughout the whole year, but as we discovered it was a collaboration of ideas that lead to the final product. In the case of Nachiket, we saw that the personal project was a great opportunity for him to pursue his interests as well as undertake something that was both ambitious enough for him to get out of his comfort zone and yet something that was achievable and would provide him with a personal sense of satisfaction, when completed.
From our perspective, it was all about assisting Nachiket in identifying his passions and aptitude as well as marrying both his passion and aptitude into a measurable outcome. We thought that this would give him a personal sense of achievement and provide him with vital critical thinking skills along the way. Although we did not assist Nachiket with the actual creation of the project, we thought that it was important as a parent to ensure that your child is enjoying the process of creating the product and ensuring that they make the most of this wonderful opportunity given to them. We encouraged Nachiket to write a book about science’s progression in the ultimate questions of life, because we knew the passion he had for science and recommended this project because writing is also one of his strong points. This project also tested his writing skills and exposed him to the whole process right from conceptualizing, researching, writing, editing and finalizing, publishing to packing his work as a finished product on the iBook store.
We are quite satisfied and proud of what he achieved and that he enjoyed the whole learning process along the way.
Shaurin Shah 2015
As a parent of Jenny Song, I was proud watching the progress each day throughout the year leading up to the completion of her Personal Project.
When Jenny decided to make “Environmentally Friendly Tutus” I knew that she would enjoy this task. Ballet has been a passion for Jenny since she was three. More recently she has shown a concern for the environment. Therefore, her idea to design and create her own tutus using recycled material stemmed from her concern for our environment and her love for ballet. Jenny has been aware of the abundance of waste in terms of paper, plastics and other litter and decided this wastage may be used for other effects.
Jenny decided to experiment with a variety of waste products such as bubble wrap, paper, old denim, and plastic bags. However each material had composition problems. So Jenny’s next challenge was to decide what techniques and methods could be employed for the successful production of her tutus. Working with unfamiliar fabrics lead to challenging processes.
Jenny used her creative ability to successfully provide an opportunity for others to learn and be inspired in creating ways to minimize waste.
Further, this project assisted Jenny with her time management. She knew she would have to manage time effectively and acquire the skill to do so. In order to complete this project successfully Jenny made sure she was well organized throughout this period.
Both my husband Richard and I are extremely proud of Jenny’s achievements as a result of this task. We were also very pleased to have observed how she thoroughly enjoyed learning creatively and making a difference to our environment as a result of this project.
Flora and Richard Song 2015
It was with some trepidation that we approached the personal project last year, as we had to manage double projects with our twins, Julia and Eliza, both in grade 9. Having already had our two older children complete PPs we knew what was ahead. We believe the hardest part for the children is actually deciding on a topic. Luckily, our girls are very organised, as well as very determined, so they both knew, well in advance, what they would pour their energies into. Julia wanted to learn to decorate cakes, and Eliza wanted to learn how to sew.
The key to the PP is to start early and to work consistently. The use of the on-line journal has made this process easier as the project can no longer be done at the last minute (nb parents of boys). Both girls began with very simple tasks and expanded onto larger projects. They both made mistakes, but these all proved to be great learning experiences. One of the most important lessons, was the necessity to plan well, and to proceed slowly and carefully. We had several nights with Julia trying to finish a cake at 10pm because she had miscalculated the time needed to bake and decorate a multilayered cake, or Eliza spending valuable time unpicking her sewing because she was too impatient to investigate or learn the correct sewing technique required.
However, once they had mastered the basic skills, they were prolific creators. Julia progressed from simple cupcakes to magnificent celebration cakes. She decorated cakes for family Birthdays, for friends at school and for her PC. Her first double layered cake was a little wonky- so we dubbed it a Dr Suisse cake- but it was a huge chocolate mud cake and was enjoyed at home as well as by friends at school. She baked and decorated many cakes throughout the year, and we now have a beautiful Christmas cake ready for December.
Eliza produced an entire summer wardrobe, including pyjamas, skirts and summer dresses. She started with simple beach bags and pencil cases- you may notice many of her friends wandering around Somerset with a custom made pencil case. She also made clothes for her siblings. Both girls produced much more then what was required to complete the project.
My impressions of the PP: It can be daunting at the beginning- be organised and start early. It can be expensive, depending on the topic chosen-thousands of dollars on materials and tools can be required, so take this into account. It is A LOT of work, not only for the students, but also for parents- students need advice, guidance, teaching, transporting etc, etc. This can seem a burden on top of their other academic commitments in Year 10- I say again, be organised! But there are many advantages of the PP- it gives students a great sense of achievement- this was obvious by the pride with which they presented their projects in October. They learn valuable life skills- not only the specifics of their project, but also the art of planning, organisation, budgeting, and most importantly how to deal with mistakes and failure. Our children have certainly learnt valuable skills, and we now have an accomplished computer operator ( Matt), baker and book publisher(Isabel), cake decorator (Julia) and seamstress(Eliza)- These are skills that they eagerly use at home and will continue to use in later life. Only one more to go…
Leisha Hay 2015
Being a part of Soraya’s Personal Project this year has been both exhausting and extremely rewarding.
Soraya decided to contribute to The Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child. This is a Christian initiative that has been helping underprivileged children all over the world for many years. The aim is to fill a shoe box with appropriate gifts such as toothbrush, underwear, thongs, face wash and soap and a couple of fun toys.
Soraya’s original goal was to fill 25 boxes so she had to work out how much money she needed to make this happen. Allowing $15 per box plus a $9 postage and handling fee her budget came to $600. Next she had to brainstorm HOW to get this money. A community BBQ was the answer so she set out writing letters of requests to business such as Bunnings, Officeworks and Masters. All but Masters rejected her and she held her BBQ on Easter Monday, making a profit of $600.
The BBQ was definitely a family affair, we were all enlisted to help. Even the grandparents, aunty’s and uncle’s were rostered on for an hour or two!
Then the shopping began. Soraya’s grandmother is the South East Qld Co-ordinator for Samaritans Purse so she took her shopping and advised what products were acceptable. Then they had a day of boxing up all the gifts. They obviously shopped wise because they made up 41 boxes! However, as great as that was this created a problem of no money left over to pay for the extra 16 box postage cost.
So once again Soraya hit the donation path, writing to all the businesses that had advertised in the Somerset Business Directory. The response was incredible. The businesses were so supportive and generous and were very impressed with Soraya’s community spirit and conduct. Their donations enabled Soraya to not only raise the required extra postage but to add another 11 boxes to her total!
Our whole family is incredibly proud of Soraya’s selfless and humanitarian nature, choosing such a beneficial project. Her 62 boxes will bring so much joy to not only 62 children but also to their families. We have learnt that families often share one toothbrush and one bar of soap so even that small gesture has an enormous impact on these families. Soraya’s extended family were all involved from the beginning, helping Soraya raise the monies required, conducting the fundraising BBQ and shopping and packing the gifts. The end result far exceeded our expectations and we are all thrilled with the outcome. Not only did she learn a lot about the logistics of fundraising but also achieved a great sense of satisfaction in giving so many a precious box of happiness.
Peta LeMarshall 2015
A Year 10 Personal Project can be a very enormous task for students, as they have to carefully decide the topic for their Personal Project. Although it was challenging at times, it was definitely a worthwhile project. This project did not only inspire Vanessa to explore her roots, but it also had a significant impact on the whole family.
For Vanessa’s Year 10 Personal Project, she decided to create a Malaysian-Chinese cookbook, consisting of over 20 family traditional recipes. Unlike me, Vanessa always loves cooking, and this Personal Project was a fantastic opportunity to satisfy her passion. My mother also loves cooking, so it was a perfect bonding experience for both of them. My mother always has delicious recipes that the whole family loves, but procrastination over the years means no one has ever initiated to collect these special recipes. This project has changed it all. Our family thoroughly enjoyed the journey with Vanessa, as we got to sample the delicious food, and offer our opinions and suggestions.
In addition, as part of the Personal Project, Vanessa also volunteered at two homeless organisations, in which she helped to serve for the people in the homeless organisations. The true life stories of the people that Vanessa met had inspired her to be more grateful and value the things she presently has in life. After listening to their stories, it is evident that not everyone is born ‘bad’ or ‘corrupted’. Sometimes the circumstances in their lives made them commit wrongdoings that they eventually regret. It is important that these people receive support and acceptance from society in order to get back on track with their lives. These experiences have changed our views on homeless people and discarded our prejudice on how they chose to lead their lives. Therefore, we have decided that we will sell Vanessa’s cookbook and all the profits will go to the homeless organisation (Set Free Care) that we visited.
My advice on personal project: choose a topic that you are passionate about; and plan your time effectively. The Personal Project can be extremely enjoyable and a rewarding journey if not completed in haste.
Good luck to all the current Year 9 students and parents in choosing their Personal Project and I am sure you will have an exciting year of Personal Project ahead of you!
Peng Chuah 2015
Few assignments have excited Navdeep as much as the personal project and his enthusiasm survived the whole year. This was great to see. Surprisingly, it was also an eye-opening journey for us as parents. Obviously we supported Navdeep throughout the process; but it was surprising for us to understand the depth of commitment Navdeep was capable of and really how much he enjoyed the music and events environment. His chosen project was to write a manual about running a, “Battle of the Bands” for APS schools, to be hosted by Somerset. Navdeep’s initial ideas were sometimes unrealistic but over the year he really got into the detail and it was very satisfying to see how his ideas matured over the year and after many rewrites and extended research he produced a very practical manual.
We have a family business involved in event management so our expectations were pretty high and it was delightful to see the moments of enlightenment and understanding as Navdeep went through his journey of discovery of the subject. We often got calls from people he had interviewed to say how impressed they were with his understanding, his ability to tease out the real issues and to differentiate between hype and reality. These are all great things to hear for a parent and we can truthfully say we saw a changed young man through the personal project experience. Much more self confident and more appreciative that one has to dig deeper than the surface to get anything of value. Great life lessons he owes to the personal project …
Navin & Deepa Pasricha
1) What is your overall opinion of the Personal Project?
The Middle Years Personal Project is an excellent activity because it gave my daughter Efi the opportunity to pursue a topic of personal interest that is not otherwise covered in the curriculum. It gave her the chance to use skills that she learned in school, develop new skills and the experience of working independently.
The paintings that Efi did for her Personal Project are truly remarkable, and even life changing for her as she discovered a topic for which she has a passion.
2) How has it affected you and your family over the past year?
It has affected our family to the extent that our living room was transformed into an art studio for Efi to paint. Furniture was removed and everything else covered with protective sheets.
3) Did you experience any difficulties?
The main difficulty for Efi was to find the right project whilst having the added pressure of organizing the whole process, selecting the materials to use, deciding on the choice of procedures, conducting her research and preparing the documentation. The entire family was open to discussion with her on these subjects and encouraged her when she struggled.
4) Do you believe the essay should be incorporated into the Personal Project?
Yes, because the pressure of writing a report was distracting her from being creative on her paintings.
At last I would like to mention that Efi has thought deeply about her project and what she has learnt from this experience and how much she has grow as a result of this.
When Elizabeth came up with the idea of wanting to write a travelogue on the South Indian state of Kerala, I initially had mixed feelings. On one hand, it would be a good trip – an excuse to visit old haunts, old friends and reminisce on old times. On the other hand, trying to organize it in such a way that it would be a personal journey for the whole family with a two-year old in tag was not going to be an easy one.
Planning the trip was easy for Elizabeth. There is no shortage of guide books on Kerala. There was just a statement – “Dad, I want to go here, here, here and here and here…and finally here”. I had to suppress an internal smile. It would certainly not be possible to cover all the sites within the time frame we had. But how could I dampen her enthusiasm?
The journey itself was fun. There were the usual moments – when the battery charger was forgotten and left in Australia, the camera lens cover was misplaced, dealing with travel sickness etc. Trying to get the family off the beaten track was quite taxing, even more so getting Elizabeth to understand the significance of something that was not visually overpowering.
Looking back, the MYP personal project ended up being a journey for me as well. Seeing through the eyes of a 14 year old who feels a stranger to a culture that is her own was quite an eye opener. Precious were the moments when I was able to share the hand-me-down stories (whatever be the interpretation of these stories later). In our busy day to day lives, working together on projects like these help to re-forge links, build up relationships and impart values that make our lives worthwhile.
Dr. Thomas Titus
Monday 2nd April 2012
Today was no better than yesterday and I swear any rock or piece of mud looks comfortable. I am so exhausted I think I could collapse, actually I might. We have reached our limits. We dragged the canoe through rapids, pulled it up a 5m steep bank and trekked through the wilderness. We started off the day waking up in our beautiful campsite to the sound of the rapids… We started a lot earlier than yesterday so we could have a more productive day…
… By the look of this rapid we knew that wasn’t likely to happen [reaching Tabulam]… this rapid was not traversable in any manner. We got out and trampled through shrubs and slid on muddy banks whilst being very vigilant of snakes, spiders and other wild creatures in this harsh country. Once we found the end of the rapid, we saw the power of its waters and the numerous tree strainers capable of drowning us…
…We then had a long peaceful run through a wider stretch of river in which we regained our hopes of reaching Tabulam but my conscience was telling me differently. I was right, our luck didn’t last and we reached a rapid with an interesting twist. As if it was protocol we go out and walked… in front of us was an injured wedged-tailed eagle with a broken wing…
…HA, I am actually amazed I have stayed awake to write this but I think it’s off to bed now. I can’t even be bothered eating dinner. So cheerio and I will write in with tomorrows events.
Our daughter chose a personal project requiring our direct involvement. Dad was to accompany her on her journey and Mum was to be the “support team”. As parents our dilemma was, “How can we be so involved without tainting her personal project?” We resolved our issues by agreeing to be ‘stakeholders’ who had to be suitably managed, and sometimes placated, by the ‘project manager’. This did involve a little bit of role reversal, which was at times, let’s say, ‘interesting’. In the end our ‘project manager’ met the myriad of challenges presented, delivering what she wanted as her personal project.
Our experience left me wondering, “What is the common relationship between the student, the personal project and the parents?”
My enlightenment came on the project display night. There was the sculpture where Dad had taught how to weld, the garden where Dad stood proudly with his son’s achievement, the journal describing the assistance of a step-father in building a cigar box guitar, the parent’s software purchase and home ‘renovations’ required to produce a CD, the parental ‘production crew’ behind their daughter’s videoed dance performance and many similar examples. It was heart-warming these relationships were not being suppressed or hidden. Instead most students openly and proudly stated the assistance their parents had provided. The unifying theme was of mentored support for the respective ‘project managers’ requirements.
That night I came to realise the personal project offers so much on so many levels. It is a gentle lever into the level and type of commitment the student is required to make in the coming years. It builds a definitive transition point or bridge for the journey to adulthood. More importantly, for many it will quietly mark a reaffirmation of the relationship between the student and their parents redefined from child / parent into the young adult / mentor context.
I have learnt parents are an integral part of the personal project process and it is an experience to be enjoyed and treasured – but be warned, there can be hard work involved!
Choosing a topic for the personal project is almost as daunting for parents as it is for the student. Will it be too hard? Will it take up too much time? Will it take over family life? My son’s choice did all three. He decided to make a wooden surf board with the help of his Dad. For three months, long strips of timber cluttered up the hallway. We lost use of an outdoor table for another three months then a car had to be removed from the garage to make way for the shaping process. Numerous trips to Bunnings, many stops and starts, timber off-cuts taking over the garage, deadlines looming!
The personal project is a big project which will take up much of their time. It is important that they choose something they are interested in. If they decide on something very big and challenging, encourage them. It is not about whether they succeed or fail – but chances are they will succeed. By the same token, if they choose something that is very personal but might not look so impressive on the night, encourage that as well. They will get just as much out of it. We now have a fabulous board that looks like it came from a shop. It has been an amazing experience to watch and a great sense of achievement for my son. One down, two to go!