High School students at Silicon Valley International School (INTL) have a wide range of ways to demonstrate their learning and apply the qualities they’ve developed as IB Learners. Among those methods are three key activities: the Extended Essay, Personal Projects and CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service). Below are some examples of what they’ve been working on.
Diploma Programme Extended Essay (12th grade)
The Extended Essay is a required component of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. It is an independent, self-directed piece of research, culminating in a 4,000-word paper. The Extended Essay provides practical preparation for undergraduate research.
By Anna Y.
When we had to choose a subject for our Extended Essay, I knew that it would give me an opportunity to explore my favourite Biology topic in more detail than we had time for in class. I am fascinated by the role hormones play in the body, and was interested in studying the stress hormone cortisol.
I started the process by researching cortisol and the impact it has on the body. I found that high cortisol levels in the saliva has been linked to developing periodontitis, which is a gum disease, and decided to test the impact of cortisol on periodontitis-related bacteria. I did this by using samples of my own tooth plaque and different concentrations of hydrocortisone solutions, a synthetic preparation of cortisol, and growing these on agar plates. My preliminary trials were unsuccessful after there was no bacterial growth on the agar plates. I had to change my method and after many different attempts, I finally was able to find a successful method that gave me data I could analyze. Ultimately, I found that cortisol does not directly affect the growth of periodontitis-related bacteria. Through research, I found that it actually weakens the body’s ability to fight off the periodontitis bacteria, which leads to periodontitis. Although my data did not show what I had expected, I learned some invaluable lessons through the process of designing and carrying out my own experiment for the first time. It taught me self-management skills, research skills, and perseverance. The process took self-discipline, strong time management, confidence and the ability to troubleshoot when conducting the experiment independently. I am planning on majoring in Biology and am confident that the EE has given me a head start and helped me develop skills that I will need in future academics.
Middle Years Programme Personal Project (10th grade)
The Personal Project is a student-centered long-term project that serves as the culmination of their Middle Years Programme learning. It is a practical exploration through a cycle of inquiry, action, and reflection and prepares them for the Diploma Programme and beyond.
By Samantha P.
For my personal project, I have taken this opportunity to explore directing, which is a career that I find extremely interesting and a possible profession that I would like to go into. I started the after-school Drama Club here at INTL, so that I could gain that experience directing, as well as to share my passion for acting and theater with other students. We have about 20 students participating in the play The Big Bad Musical, which is a play that I have taken from one of my previous schools in Spain and slightly edited for our use. It is a play about the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ being put on trial for all of his crimes, including huffing and puffing down houses, attempted murder by ingestion, grandmother impersonation and attempted sheep abduction. I hope my personal project has made a lasting mark, where the drama club continues to grow along with the school, so that other students may explore their interest or love for theater.
Creativity, Activity, Service
The CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) is not a formal assessment, but rather a vehicle in which students can engage in civic and social activities alongside their academic studies. It enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experiences.
By Sophie, Tristan, grify, and Sasha
Sophie, Tristan, grify, and Sasha have been working on a service opportunity based upon one of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. They selected “conservation climate” as they wanted to do something that benefited the community. As a group, they delegated tasks amongst themselves such as project management, research, website design, finding and creating formulas (such as how often a person drives, or how many flights a year a person takes and the impact on climate), programming, and more.
Based upon their research, the group created a website titled “Offset” (located at: conserve.grify.dev) which provides a carbon emissions calculator to provide awareness for people’s individual impact on the environment. They also created a Twitter account, and put up posters around their personal neighborhoods to spread awareness. Throughout this project, they learned how to be more organized, improved their collaboration and communication skills, and used their individual strengths and talents to create an inspiring group project.