The Insider Take: Student Initiated Projects

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Hey Guys! I initiated a few projects in Year 5 and 6, and I’ve been asked to write an article about my experience with student-initiated projects in ACS. I have put off writing the article for a very long time (I don’t normally do that). I was planning to write it now, but I found a message when I checked my laptop. I have an amazing doggy! The message:

Dear incoming-to-IB ACSians (and all the other pokey noses reading this),

I write on behalf of my amazing master and Dada – Nishant. This article has been residing in his to-do list for a month now, and when that happens, I take the initiative of doing the task. I know him better than he knows himself – he’s always telling me everything on his mind – so wag your tails with me, this article is credible!

Now, to the point, my most awesome Dada initiated a couple of projects during his IB years at ACS. A quick summary to get you drooling, along with some YouTube stuff that you humans like to waste your time on (instead of spending it with your best companions – dogs):

  • For The Love of Science Drama (it’s more theatre in the technical sense, but… woof!). A drama with cool science experiments (explosions!!! And more!) performed at primary school around Singapore. Guest performance at the Singapore Science Center: http://youtu.be/d4ZUzZaELFk, recording of the same performance in school (if you have more time to waste): http://youtu.be/vBac11vfuXQ
  • DeCONSTRUCT. A three-day hardware hacking competition at the Singapore Science Center. Participants took apart old electronic devices (like discarded printers) and built a musical spark gap, a 3D scanner, an automatic guitar strummer, an automatic Jam spreader, and much more weird stuff out of the pieces. He was trying to show the applicability of physics and math lessons.
  • Camp CauseWeCan (as you can see my Dada tends to get slightly high with the caps lock button in titles). To help get children cancer patients in remission motivated and prepared to return to school. Camp invitation video: http://youtu.be/8hU1HCfxvVQ
  • A bunch of other highly classified top-dog stuff that I can’t tell you here. Jealous? 😉

The Uncertainty

In many ways, initiating projects in school is like launching a start-up. The uncertainty – sometimes you work out all these beautiful plans, and the whole time you have no idea if you will even ever get to execute it. When you are the leader, you get the whole team working hard, and what if your work isn’t given the approval to continue? It’s not like most CCAs where you put in XXX effort you get YYY output. Here you can put in XXXXXXX effort and get 00000 output OR 8-sidesways output! You gotta have all these ideas and solutions and keep trying them one by one, don’t give up!

Passion and Belief

A short cut to abundant energy to invest in relentless pursuit is passion and belief. Your project has to be about something you feel strongly about – very very strongly! Dada believes in the applicability of education, in learning for the joy of it, in actually being able to see the world through all the different lenses of the disciplines you humans study at school. Seeing the world through the knowledge of science, through its mathematical intricacy, though its linguistic finesse.

Getting Approval

If you feel very very strongly about something, and want to bring it to others (and yourself) in a different way – go do it! If you need the school’s support, you will need approval from the senior administration. Your school principal – Mr Hodge – looks like a pretty friendly guy to me… drop him an email! It’s hard to resist a new, crazy, or passionate idea that (hopefully) enriches the lives of others! When dealing with adults and third parties, it’s always good to keep everyone informed and take permission before doing something w**f. CC-ing an email doesn’t hurt either!

Hard Work

This may all sound really lovely. And it is, as long as you are willing to work hard. I think “hard work” is easy though. It’s knowing what you want to work hard for that’s difficult. Your in-between class walks (for the non-intact fellas) won’t be a leisurely stroll with time to sniff every pillar and person. You will be running with your phone in hand replying to all the emails and messages you get relating to your beloved projects. It made Dada really sad actually. For a short while (when he was simultaneously working four projects) all the messages he got, and most of the conversations he had, were of the ‘how’s your project?’ type rather than the ‘how are you?’ type. This may sound irrelevant, but what I’m trying to say is make your project, or any other work for that matter, reek of you, but don’t let it define you – you define it.

Team

Although I hate dealing with other dogs – I think they are uncouth dumb fiends – Dada loves to deal with other humans. He says the only thing more important than project is team. Dada initiated some projects, he struck a spark, he didn’t make the fire. He could have struck the spark a thousand times over soggy leaves and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Dada’s friends who worked on the projects with him really know how to scratch my belly. Besides that they are creative, cooperative, passionate, and all-around amazing people. The way I see it, Dada doesn’t really “lead” the team, he just facilitates them. He barks at them to all come for a meeting, he makes sure they all get to woof and whine their share, and then he coordinates the work that everyone does. Dada’s always whining to me about how important it is for the whole team to see the “vision” (this word is to fancy-pancy), the final product, so I suppose it’s important and you could take note of it. Dada always says to be very patient too – very very patient. Even if someone messes up really bad and poos in the kitchen, you gotta understand that being unhappy about it won’t help. You gotta get a mop. Clean it. And invent an anti-kitchen pooping device.

Nice Ending

To end off, here’s a quote from Dada’s favorite childhood book: “Matilda said, “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…” – Matilda by Roald Dahl. Learn from the ideas already around you, but never – ever – settle with the ordinary. Be extraordinary – even in your failure.

Love, licks, paws, and woofs,
Leonardo Da Doggy
(On behalf of my Dada, contactable at 96.nishant@gmail.com).

Nishant Verma is from the graduating batch of 2014.

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