Deep Learning in Action
By: Jessica Richmond, Middle School Principal
In Grade 10, their final year of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP), students explore an area of significant personal interest over an extended period of time as part of their appropriately named Personal Project. STS MYP students develop and demonstrate key 21st century learning skills they will need later in their education and in life beyond the classroom. Through this highly personalized undertaking, students also develop confidence and strengthen their abilities as principled, life-long learners.
Ryan Prest ’24
Ryan Prest ’24 spent the MYP Exhibition rocking out on the electric guitar he built from scratch. After overcoming numerous setbacks as he ordered parts and drilled holes that didn’t always match up, Ryan reflects that he didn’t realize the extent to which guitars are customizable, down to the smallest parts, such as tuning knobs. While serving to enrich his understanding of the connection a musician can have with their guitar, these setbacks were, in fact, an experiential learning success about the art and science of creating a complex and personal musical instrument. In terms of the deep learning Ryan will carry forward from this experience, he comments that “overall, my Personal Project experience was fun and inspiring and I will probably continue learning about guitars and building them in the future. I think this is a life-long skill that could be a really great hobby for a long time.” This is deep learning in action!
Isabelle Rutz ’24
The variety in Personal Project topics is always rich and inspiring as individual personalities and passions shine. This year was no exception. From fabricating 3D-printed prosthetic bones, to modeling anti-drinking and driving machinery, and rebuilding a dirt bike, our Grade 10 students impressed once again. Three standout examples include: Isabelle Rutz ’24 tackled the complex and timely issue of social anxiety, drawing from her significant artistic talents and desire to create an appealing resource for youth. Isabelle learned about the impact social anxiety has on people diagnosed, what causes it, and how people manage this illness. Through her life experiences, Isabelle had already learned that “a lot of people are unaware or have been misinformed about anxiety as a mental illness.” So, she created a comic book that tells the story of a schoolboy facing anxiety and follows his struggles and victories. It is a story enjoyable for all readers, while offering authentic empathy and compassion for the challenges faced by youth affected by this illness. Along the way, Isabelle enhanced her artistic skills around perspective and the principles of light and shading as she produced a beautiful graphic story that is a significant creative and artistic accomplishment. Isabelle’s choice of topic is highly relevant in a time where our young people are dealing with anxiety at unprecedented rates, and her project is a wonderful example of how the MYP Personal Project inspires students to create products that make our world better.
James Sealy-Thompson ’24
James Sealy-Thompson ’24 tapped into his passion for military history, particularly that of World War II. James’ grandfather was in the British Navy during the war, and this family connection drives James’ curiosity for the topic. As James considered possible project ideas, he also researched the Edo period of Japan, the era of the Samurai. James was then reminded of the old katana (a ceremonial Japanese sword produced after the introduction of conscription in 1872), in his family’s possession that his grandfather acquired during World War II. A project was born! James then learned and applied the skills and knowledge to restore the special sword to new condition, tracked the sword’s travel over the past century, and contacted previous owners. The results drew crowds at the MYP Exhibition where all Grade 10 students display their final Personal Projects. Through his project, James developed his intercultural awareness and strengthened his intergenerational family connections.
With our next MYP Personal Project Exhibition on the horizon in May 2023, we can’t wait to see what our next group of Grade 10 students will wonder, imagine, and create! Thank you to this year’s Grade 10 students for inspiring us by living our School motto: Nil nisi optimum.