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As part of the process of completing my Middle Years Program of the International Baccalaureate I must complete an independent project called the Personal Project in grade 10. For my Personal Project, I have decided to learn more about sustainable reusage of motorcycles. We are currently living in a state of crisis in which we are destroying the environment that surrounds us and we must do whatever it takes to reverse the damage which we put upon the earth until it’s too late.
The Personal Project Guide states that “the Personal Project gives the students opportunities to focus on an area of personal interest and to expand their knowledge of a chosen subject”, and this is a chance for me to develop my skills within my personal interest (motorcycles). The project is conducted over an extended amount of time and will provide a challenge that tests my ability to research and organize information, apply knowledge and skills, and reflect on my abilities. The Personal Project should be an interesting project that I ultimately enjoy spending time on and working with.
I specifically chose this topic because I truly believe that we can all help and do something about it; maybe, not all of us cut down the trees, not in a direct way, but we do have to use transport somehow. My personal project is focused on a way in which we can relate to it and gain awareness of the situation. I developed the project within this specific community because I wanted to highlight the problem of our city, country and world among my peers in order to show them that we are not far away from the issue and that on the contrary we are contributing to it. However, we can still, do something about it.
This personal project, which I am developing, is directly related to the Global Context: “Globalization and sustainability” because it addresses the following topic: The impact of decision-making on humankind and the environment, aong other issues this context invites us to explore the interaction between people and the natural world; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on communities and environments; the impact of environments on human activity; how humans adapt environments to their needs. With this project I propose to develop some solutions to mitigate the effects of modern transport.
In order to fulfil my expectations and the expectations of my supervisor, coordinators and every person involved in the project I had to overcome obstacles, follow orders, lead groups and others. All this will be later explained in this report.
Before I start presenting my Personal Project it is essential to explain further what does a Personal Project actually mean? According to the IB, the Personal Project is “a significant piece of work that is the product of the student’s own initiative and creativity”. In spite of the fact that I completely agree with this definition I would also like to offer my own definition of the personal project, after I have experienced it at first hand.
After these few months that I have spent working and developing my Personal Project, after long nights, lengthy researches, heavy schedules and hard deadlines, I can proudly affirm that a Personal Project is not just a significant piece of work that comes directly from the student’s creativity. A Personal Project, I believe, is more about the process and enjoying the journey, than the product and destination itself. A Personal Project is a challenging procedure. The Personal Project should be an excellent and enriching experience if you wish to; everything you do in it, you take from it, you learn from it, will be up to you.
I came to the conclusion that a personal project is a way to know myself better. It is a way to test myself and see how far I get. During your personal project everything that you get will be a result of what you do. You will have the supervisor and the coordinator, but they are not pushing you, they are not punishing you, they are not running behind you, you are the one with that responsibility. At the end is you and only you the one to blame. A personal project is an individual and independent experience.
My project goal is to restore an old pocket bike to (in a way) give it a new life. So, instead of just throwing the pocket bike out and buying a new one, I restore the old one. Therefore I make less on an impact on the environment due to the fact that the total carbon emissions of breaking down the old bike and manufacturing and delivering a new one would be much greater than if I (instead of buying a new pocket bike and throwing out the old one) simply fixed and renewed the old pocket bike. There really isn’t anything (in terms of motor works) which cannot be restored, even if that means ripping the whole vehicle apart and replacing the majority of the parts.
My global context of my project is ‘Globalization and sustainability’, I chose ‘Globalization and sustainability’ as the global context for my project because I want to restore an old pocket bike and ‘bring it back to life’ (which is more sustainable). So, by restoring an old pocket bike, I am being more sustainable by not throwing out the old one and buying a whole new one. This helps the globalization of sustainability because then one more person will be more sustainable, which is a step in the right direction (which is where everybody will be sustainable. I specifically chose to restore a pocket bike because I never restored a pocket bike, which is quite different than what I know about (dirt bikes). The engine used in pocket bikes is also different in a way because most pocket bikes just use lawnmower engines. Furthermore, pocket bikes are much more compact than the usually bigger dirt bikes which I am used to, and the layout of the parts in pocket bikes has to be different than the one in bigger dirt bike.
I chose to do my project on motorcycles and sustainability because I love riding motorcycles (especially dirt bikes in the Summer), but I am also pretty conscious that motorsports aren’t the most sustainable hobbies in the world, so I already started taking an action towards this cause by buying an electric dirt bike to keep in Belgium, instead of having two big gasoline burning motorcycles (one in Italy and one in Belgium). However, that isn’t enough, so I want to restore a little pocket bike which would leave less of a carbon footprint rather than buying a brand-new pocket bike, which I would throw away in a couple years anyway.
I knew that some pocket bikes use lawnmower engines, which are quite cheap, I heard this from my friend: Charly Dumon. I checked this online, and I learned that pocket bikes use various engines, which can come from an old lawnmower, but usually commercially sold pocket bikes use engines which can resemble lawnmower engines however they are usually manufactured by brands like Honda which sell these engines separately to the brands which assemble and sell the pocket bikes. I also knew that pocket bikes usually act the same way as the usually bigger motorcycles, so you have to change the oil if the pocket bike has a 4 stroke engine, or mix the oil with the gasoline if the pocket bike has a 2 stroke engine. In addition to this, I knew that pocket bike use a chain, as opposed to a belt (as used in scooters usually) or a drive shaft (as we see a lot in BMW motorcycles).
Throughout 5th grade, we started and completed our PYP project (my subject was Sleep Deprivation). We had to write and rehearse a 5 minute presentation, write a 2000+ word process journal (which includes a bibliography), and make a stand which people could go to learn about my subject during the PYP exhibition. One very important concept thing I learned while writing my PYP process journal was the importance of making a bibliography, and how to make one. I learned that the chosen way of citation in St Johns is the MLA format. Since then, I always remember to make a bibliography for my projects in school.
When I started this project, I had quite a few research skills, here they are: My first research skill is that I know how to search for keywords when trying to find out more about a certain subject through web searched or ever when searching through the library book catalogue. My other research skill is that I know how to cite sources in MLA format, this is important because it is very important to be able to cite your sources for any projects and work which you use outside sources for your aid. Another skill which I have is that I can find out the validity of a source, based on doing small background checks on the author of the source, or even on the type of source. For example, if my source is somebody’s blog, they could just be pretending to be an expert on a subject which they barely know about.
I have further developed these research skills, and I developed various other research skills through the project.
After settling my goal for this project, I had to create criteria which I could refer to, in order to measure the success of my product. Instead of making 2 or 3 broad criteria with 7 levels of achievement, I made 11 checklist-style specific criteria, each with only 3 levels of achievement (Fully achieved, mostly achieved, and partly achieved). In my opinion, it is more affective to have a higher amount of very specified criteria as oppose to a lower amount of very broad criteria. For the reason that it makes more sense (and is more efficient) for me to measure the success of a lot of smaller aspects of my product, rather than pondering for a long time about the success of very complicated and broad aspects of my product.
In the past, I had just one criteria for how my product turns out visually in terms of the use of different types of colors to achieve a beautiful aesthetic, however I soon found out that this type of classification for good visuals is my own, and could be subjective to only me. Consequently, I had created another criterion in terms of the appeal of the aesthetic of my product to my audience which came to my stand. The way which I will measure the success of this criteria is that, during the exhibit I will ask my audience to give me their opinions about the visuals of the pocket bike by giving me a number out of 10, I will put this in a table and I will calculate the average score.
I used two different planning tools to record and help me with finishing objectives on time: the provided MYP Personal Project St John’s International School Pacing Guide included in the Personal Project Guide OneNote, I also used a Student Planner (a sort of checklist) which I had to make for the 17th of December (a day which was dedicated towards developing our Personal Projects). I chose to use two simpler planning tools due to the fact that I don’t like to plan for too long, I prefer to take action, otherwise I would waste all of my time on a plan, and have no time to actually work on my project. The MYP Personal Project Pacing Guide was very useful for me because it states all the due dates for the personal project process, and it has a perfect pacing guide where I can see on which days and how much time I have for each part of the project.
I provide evidence that I completed my first and second interviews (which happened due to good planning) with my supervisor (Mrs. Rose), as seen in my MYP Project Academic Honesty Form you can see the first interview took place on the 12th of November 2019, and the second interview took place on the 17th of January 2020.
I haven’t altered my research plan throughout the development of my Personal Project.
Self¬-management skills help with managing things such as time and energy, and even though I had the knowledge of several, I haven’t been too good at utilizing them a lot before the personal project. I already knew strategies for overcoming distractions, and I am very persistent and perseverant. When I started this project, I always had all of my important due dates in my virtual agenda (which is located in my phone and laptop), and that helped my self-management in that I was reminded to finish important pieces of the personal project.
During the project, I learned how to organize my time and energy for longer periods of time, and I realized how I could use technology effectively and productively. I did this by listening to music loudly, in order to block-out all of the distractions (somewhat like a white noise machine), this helped me a lot to get rid of distractions. Another method which I used to get rid of distractions is that I put my phone on airplane mode, so I can’t get any texts, calls, notifications, etc. which could distract me. To finish, somehow when I turned my laptop brightness up and my room lights up, then I was more focused to work, this could be a placebo effect, however it worked for me.
The product of my project is a small motorcycle, more specifically a restored pocket bike, which functions by inserting regular petrol mixed with 2-stroke engine oil (in order to lubricate the engine). It achieves my goal to restore an old pocket bike in order to give it a new life. It is related to the global context, Globalization and sustainability, as it is a demonstration of the fact that we all can be a little bit more sustainable if we put our minds to it. The product is a demonstration of the knowledge that I have acquired through the project
The use of thinking skills such as analyzing helped me in the project during the research stage. Before the project started, I was not using quite a lot of thinking skills in terms of school work, for the most part they were limited to considering multiple options, and using knowledge, understanding and skills to create solutions to rather simple and broad problems. During the project I have started to develop the use of several new skills: I demonstrated my ability to apply existing (and new) knowledge in order to complete a task where I needed to restore a malfunctioning pocket bike. I apply my skills and knowledge in an unfamiliar situation when I needed to use my full-sized motorcycle knowledge on a miniature-sized motorcycle. My product shows that I made connections between my prior learning and experiential learning, without these thinking skills, completing this project would be much more difficult and would be more time consuming.
My communication and social skills have grown during the project. Before the MYP project, I was able to listen to other perspectives and ideas and use a variety of sources to some extent. For instance, when I got advice about schoolwork, then I would consider it, however usually I wouldn’t use the advice to a full extent. Furthermore, I was always interested to listen to other people’s perspectives and feedback, however I didn’t really do much with that information other than keeping it in my head, as oppose to keeping the information in a table or graph. I have developed those skills further, and I have also used and interpreted a range of information. It is during the project where I have recently used a variety of sources, such as online YouTube videos and text¬-based documentation (articles on the internet) in order to further develop my knowledge on the subject of pocket bikes and pocket bike restoration. I have interpreted these sources in order to create my final product. With the information I had acquired, I learned a descent amount of terminology specific to pocket motorcycles, and I applied that information when I created my product. When I got feedback about my product, then I reflected on how I could improve my product in affiliation to this feedback, showing that I listen to other perspectives.
After completing this process, I can say that I am proud of what I have achieved. Whether the project passes or not, I feel that I have grown as a person in the last few months. I have learnt from the articles, interviews, surveys but I have also learnt about myself and the type of person I would like to become. I now know the challenges I can go through, the stress I can work with, and that I am able to produce something despite having obstacles that stand in my path. I can now tell that if I truly wish to produce a product, then I will work hard to complete that task.
The most important thing that I have learnt during this process is the importance of taking care of the environment. I am aware of the fact that every action has a reaction and therefore I must think about my actions wisely and not just thinking solely about myself but others as well. I am more conscious now of the fact that I live in a single planet with population of around 7.5 billion people, and the natural resources in this world (such as clean water) are for every one of us (AND the future civilization), and we should all start thinking like that.
I also learnt that we all play a highly important role in the environment and since we are the creatures who are destroying it, we must be the ones who repair it. I have learnt that this problem, of an injured planet, affects us all and if we don’t take care of the planet which we all call home, then who will? We must take responsibility for the outcomes of our action and we must make sure that those outcomes be the least harmful to the environment as possible.
Last but not least, I have learnt that we can all make changes even if we don’t think at the time that we can. Small actions build up to become bigger actions. Us humans need to all work together in unison as a whole, in order to create a better world for us and for the future inhabitants of this planet. We can all contribute something: knowledge, experience, action, etc., anything can help to build a better and more connected environment to live in. I have learnt that it is NOT too late to make an impactful change on this wonderful planet which we call home…
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