“I was inspired by a friend in a local school who witnessed a girl being bullied by her classmates, and the girl responded with an extreme way to end her life. Fortunately, she did not succeed. I feel more people should hear about these types of situations, and pay more attention to it, so I decided to focus my project on raising awareness for this social issue.” This was Grade 10 Keystone student, Shuhan Wei’s response to a question posed to her regarding her inspiration for her IB MYP Personal Project during its opening night on March 4th at Keystone Academy.
Wei, like many grade 10 students, utilized this project as an opportunity to delve into her passion for raising awareness for social justice issues affecting adolescents and teens in China, and bring attention of this particular social issue to Keystone. Her creative and innovative response to bullying in schools amongst teens was to write a fiction book titled “Say The Word”, chronicling the life of a young Chinese teenager facing circumstances of bullying in her local community. Examples of project’s like Wei’s filled the secondary school foyer and transformed the space into learning opportunities for the community, and an exchange of ideas on numerous topics.
On the 4th – 5th of March, Keystone Academy hosted its 2ndPersonal Project Open Night Exhibition, in which Grade 10 students presented their MYP Personal Projects to parents, teachers, staff, and faculty of the Keystone community. IB schools worldwide participate in the MYP (Middle Years Programme) personal project, as it is a requirement for the IB diploma, alongside IBDP CAS (Creativity Action Service) and IBDP TOK (Theory of Knowledge). It is also an opportunity for students to explore their passions and interests outside of regular subject areas taught in within the classroom, and apply their knowledge and skills to that particular topic area.
The Personal Project is a culmination of several months’ commitment to exploring a variety of interests. Students begin by selecting a topic for further exploration, formulate questions to guide their research, work with carefully assigned advisors, and organize their project in preparation for presentation to their peers, teachers, and in this case, members of their school community.
Diana Martelly, Dean of the High School at Keystone, gave a warm welcome to families of the G10 students. “The PP is a chance for students to apply the skills that they have learned throughout their middle school career. Skills such as formulating research questions, collecting and interpreting information, reading for meaning, problem-solving, communicating with a variety of people, planning, and one that we can all agree on: time management. These are just some of the skills that they applied throughout the process.”
The exhibition on the 4th of March was organized by a total of six global contexts, of which students explored their interests in only five. As stated by Diana Martelly, these are: “personal and cultural exploration, scientific and technical innovation, identities and relationships, globalization and sustainability, and fairness and equity.”
Dorothy Mubweka, Social Sciences Teacher and Personal Project Coordinator, makes it clear that the skills students utilize in creating their personal projects will guide and prepare them for the IB DP, and strengthen their character in preparation for obtaining their Keystone diploma. Their dedication to develop deeper understandings of a topic through in depth investigation, commitment to complete a project over an extended period of time, and taking pride in their accomplishments culminated in a beautiful moment for the community to witness.
The secondary school foyer was transformed into a space where students presented projects and ideas as responses to the geopolitical climate of today’s world, challenge perceptions and ideas of beauty in China through apparel design and cosmetic applications and products, explored the intersection of psychology and music on the human neuronal system, and responses to sustainability challenges facing the Keystone community through technology fueled recycling systems.
Yuhan Jenny Liu, another Grade 10 student, formulated a gender neutral cosmetic line to explore perceptions of beauty and challenge the discourse on beauty in China. In Keystone’s labs, working alongside her advisor, she spent countless hours mixing and blending different chemical friendly ingredients to produce gender neutral lipsticks for men and women. “In China, men and even women hold biases and judge each other based on the make-up they wear. I wanted to create something that could balance this issue.”
“The personal project gave me the opportunity to start and finish the process of investigating my interests outside of the classroom” said Shuhan Wei. She intends to donate her book, Say The Word, to the High School library at Keystone. Shuhan Wei and Yuhan Jenny Liu, are wonderful examples of the types of inquisitive and inquiry based learning that takes place every day at Keystone.