- Middle School
As educators, we always say that passion is the best teacher as it drives valuable curiosity and learning, opening up access to previously inaccessible skills, such as coding and sewing. We are very excited to have the Projects of Passion (PoP!) back in person this year after the pandemic, as a THS annual tradition that began in 2016 when our Grade 4 teacher (Mrs. Dunn) held a Genius Hour project with her class.
Looking back as we enter the post-pandemic period, we must admit that three years have changed the way we work and live significantly. For example, thanks to a mask-free policy, we can finally see each other’s lovely faces after three years. We realized that it is the best time to let our students get the opportunity to learn about the sense of intangible time through the objects, which is always a difficult project to understand, especially for younger children. Hence, we set a theme this year, which is “re-POP-pose: Remembering the Past!” Through this theme, we hope that our students will be able to get a sense of time and temporality through the objects that have remained and the meanings we have collected, as meaning and things are just as susceptible to the ephemeral. We are elated that all of our students produced such outstanding work, and that we were able to hold a very successful final exhibition in a museum setting.
Within ten weeks, all students from Primary to Middle School had a sense of creating a "big" project that should be driven by their passion while remaining relevant to this year’s theme. Students proposed their own ideas and project plans for their passion projects, and they set weekly goals and worked on them during their independent working time of one hour at library lesson per week. They assessed their weekly performance and did the reflection weekly by completing a weekly report in order to manage their own project progress. They also devised the best way to display it once completed. Overall, working on a passion project provided students a really great opportunity, especially for younger students, to complete a project from soup to nuts.
We’ve had two mentor sessions where students paired up with teachers according to their project category or interest. Even though it was their passion and what they enjoyed doing, students often encountered problems and difficulties working on their PoP! project. Mentors were the ones to provide students with insightful and practical suggestions and feedback on their progress. It is always a good idea to receive guidance and support from a respected person in the area. Grove students didn’t have regular lessons in the classrooms as usual on January 13 and February 17’s afternoon, instead, they all went to meet up with their mentors in the designated area. Some were up in the art room, some were in the library, some were in the classroom on another floor; we were all over the Grove. At the first mentor session, mentors helped to brainstorm a cool name for student’s projects which would be displayed on their museum labels at the final exhibition. Students were well-prepared and all set for the exhibition after the second session as mentors went through their projects and presentation recordings. We were very fortunate to have all the helpful mentors to be there for their students from the beginning to end.
The PoP! exhibition took place at the Grove library from February 27 to March 8. This year we did something different as the exhibition was in a museum setting. Students presented their work by making a short video or audio that went into the QR codes attached to their museum labels alongside student names and project names. A pre-recorded audio or video project presentation will appear on the screen that visitors used to scan for project description. There were 7 areas in the exhibition including Videotopia, Little Artists, What’s in the Closet, World Builders, Arts and Crafts, Academia and The Show. By walking around in this museum, students were able to see their hard work paid off and had a sense of accomplishment knowing the whole THS community could see and admire their project display while visiting the exhibition. Parents were proud and happily taking pictures of their children’s work and sharing it with their friends and family that couldn’t make it to the exhibition.
A highlight from the exhibition was the food sale hosted by a group of grade 7 students (Kareena, Aris, Julie, Abby & Pallas) whose passion project was fundraising for a charity. On Mar 1 during dismissal time, a little food stall was set up at the Grove main entrance and attracted a lot of students, parents and faculty. They sold spring rolls, fishballs, siu mai and milk tea. Some came back and bought more after their first purchase, that’s a compliment without having to say anything. The group gave us a plan with all the details, designed the posters, shot a promotional clip for the Tide show and woke up at 4am on the day to get prepared for the sale in the afternoon. This group got back to us on the food sale that although there was so much work went into preparation, they had so much fun working together. Knowing students have taken away the knowledge, a sense of achievement and more from their passion project was everything.
Asking students, "Do you think you can make your passion as your career?" We are overjoyed to have gotten some positive feedback. The beauty of doing a passion project in their school years is that they are learning that even seemingly insignificant interests have tremendous power and can even change the world. We hope to find more fields of students’ passions and guide them to think deeply about more profound issues for the following year.