Going above and beyond for Personal Projects

As part of the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme, Year 10s pursue topics they’re passionate about — and we’re highlighting six exceptional examples.
The Personal Project has six overarching concepts: Scientific and Technical Learning, Personal and Cultural Expression, Identities and Relationships, Globalization and Sustainability, Fairness and Development, and Orientation In Space and Time. Each student must select one and develop a project from start to finish, with the assistance of an adviser over the course of a year. 

"These concepts are part of how the IB framework is set up, and are connected in one way or another to everything we teach," says Brittney Triff, a design and science teacher and the Personal Project Coordinator.

Since a physical showcase couldn’t be held due to the pandemic, Triff created a digital display using the Padlet platform. 

"I wanted to create a virtual showcase that allows everyone to best highlight the features and process of their Personal Project," she says. "And I wanted to keep it simple, user-friendly and easy for supervisors and the greater UCC community to view these projects." 

Out of the 140 projects submitted, here are six standouts: 

Daniel Zychla created a YouTube channel that makes the subjects of finance and stocks engaging. Since starting the channel in October 2020, he has uploaded more than 50 videos, and has surpassed his goal of achieving 100 subscribers and 200 hours of watch time. 

"My original thought was that I'm a small channel, so I'm going to make specific videos so when people search for a certain stock, I come up in their search," he says. 

With almost 600 followers and 2,000 hours of watch time, the response Zychla has received from his viewers has been incredibly positive. He’s planning to continue analyzing different stocks on the channel as research for his own investments and to educate others.

Nate Finney created a fully off-grid solar power system to power his workshop. His interest in renewable energy inspired him to take on an electrical engineering project for this assignment.

"One of the main challenges was the energy storage because I found that the method I chose in the beginning wasn’t designed for my system," he says. 

Finney used a car battery as the energy storage, which offers a lot of power at once as opposed to a small amount of power used over a longer period of time. After submitting the project, he’s now using lithium batteries from hybrid buses to properly support his power system.

Kevin Han founded a youth organization that hosts public speaking workshops. He started the process by hosting some events during the summer of 2020, sending out newsletters to students to spread awareness and reaching out to public speaking institutions like Toastmaster. Han then put together a management team to help him out with different aspects of the organization such as social media.

"We’re planning to expand the organization more as the school year comes to an end," he says. "Over the summer, we’ll be hosting more events and broadening the scope to focus on other life skills aside from public speaking, like managing finances." 

Nicolas Albornoz redesigned a prison using 3D modelling using a program called Sketchup. His aim was to improve the design of the Canadian prison system. 
"I thought that the prison could be more useful," he says. "Rather than punishing its inmates, it could rehabilitate them and prepare them for when they integrate back into society."
Albornoz used colour to develop a design that subtly influences behaviour and promotes more relaxation and a calmer feeling throughout the facility. 
Jack Orr 3D-printed a humidifier, complete with a built-in Bluetooth speaker and LED lights, with the goal of developing a product to enhance lung health while still being attractive to teenagers and young adults. 
"When the pandemic started, I began to understand the implications behind COVID-19. I figured this device would be useful to have in order to help with lung health in general," says Orr. 
Bryson Tillekeratne wrote and illustrated a children’s sports book targeted for kids aged six to ten. More Than A Game delves into the friendship between a young boy and a pair of personified, talking basketball shoes. Like most children’s books, there’s a lesson to be learned, about respect and sportsmanship. 
Says Tillekeratne, "As an athlete, fiction writing has always been something I’d been interested in but hadn’t put my mind to. Since sports was put to a pause this year, I was able to recognize how creative I was with my writing."  
Tillekeratne is now looking into getting his book published.
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