1. Vroom Room

    June 13, 2024 by Sally S.

    Driving Question:

    How might I refurbish a van to a standard at which I can comfortably travel, live, and thrive in ?

    Project Summary:

    Sally, a grade 12 student from the UK, has always had a passion for adventure and the outdoors. Whether playing rugby, helping in the garden, or camping, she was often found outside, regardless of the weather. This love for nature inspired her mastery project: transforming a cargo van into a tiny home on wheels, aptly named “Vroom Room.”

    The project began with Sally purchasing a 2016 Renault Kangoo van, which she named Reggie. The process was lengthy, involving careful consideration of mileage, age, and build size. Once she had the van, Sally embarked on learning interior design, focusing on color schemes and creating electrical systems, particularly solar-powered ones. She developed a 3D model using an analogous color scheme with yellows, greens, and oranges.

    Sally faced significant challenges, especially with the electrical system. Despite seeking help from friends experienced in robotics, she had to experiment repeatedly before successfully creating a dual system powered by solar energy and the van’s starter battery. This system now supports a fridge, USB ports, spotlights, and a water pump.

    The construction phase involved measuring, cutting, insulating, and wiring the van. Sally encountered multiple obstacles, such as ensuring the wiring wouldn’t break from the van’s vibrations and addressing condensation issues to prevent mold. Time constraints also pressured her, but with the help of an external mentor specializing in furniture design, she completed the interior furnishings swiftly.

    With the assistance of another mentor in renewable engineering, Sally learned wiring, soldering, and connecting systems. After overcoming numerous hurdles, she successfully transformed the bare cargo van into a functional tiny home. The finished van includes a bed, foldable tables, flowing water, and fully operational electrics.

  2. Agents of Change: Empowering Brazilian Youth through Political Education

    by Luiza B.

    Driving Question:

    How can I promote political and civic education in my local community in Belo Horizonte through engaging workshops for young people?

    Product output from this module:

    A curriculum created by me to teach political education and securing external funding to allow for its implementation.

    Project Summary:

    Luiza, a senior from Brazil, has always been passionate about politics. Her Service Learning Mastery project, “Agents of Change: Empowering Brazilian Youth through Political Education,” stemmed from her concern about the political apathy prevalent in Brazil. Statistics show that two-thirds of the Brazilian population feel disconnected from politics, posing a threat to the country’s democracy.

    Through the service learning curriculum, Luiza delved into this issue, discovering that the root cause of political apathy was a lack of political education. She conducted a strategic statistics project, engaging with young people in her community to understand their views on politics and education’s role in shaping political engagement. She found that politics were not effectively communicated to young people, making it difficult for them to see their potential impact.

    To address this, Luiza aimed to promote political and civic education through engaging workshops for young people. She invested time in learning about politics and education, drawing inspiration from Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy, which emphasizes active, reflective learning rather than traditional, passive education.

    Luiza designed a three-lesson plan focusing on public policy creation in Brazil, emphasizing hands-on, interactive activities. The first session introduced students to politics and democratic values, encouraging them to see themselves as current political agents. The second session involved analyzing local issues and developing solutions. In the final session, students implemented their solutions to effect change in their community.

    Securing an international grant through Civics Unplugged, Luiza conducted her workshops with 20 students at an NGO in her hometown. Initially, students associated politics with corruption, but by the end, they saw it as a means for social change and collective effort. They identified and addressed hygiene issues at the NGO, benefiting 400 students.

    Luiza found the project both challenging and rewarding, witnessing significant personal growth and the empowerment of other students. She expressed gratitude to her teachers, mentors, and the NGO for their support and belief in her vision.

  3. VR Touch

    by Mishkatul Ain N.

    Driving question:

    How can I create a prosthetic device using my knowledge of haptics, brain computer interface and human body?

    Product output from this module:

    1. A virtual environment

    2. A pair of haptic gloves

    3. A system that uses the above along with a BCI to allow someone with disability in hand to function as a prosthetic device.

    Module Summary:

    Mishkatul, one of our senior students, from Bangladesh, presented her mastery project, VRTouch, which aims to integrate haptic technology with virtual reality (VR). Inspired by her early interest in creating devices, such as a traffic LED glove for her country’s congested roads, Mishkatul explored the potential of haptics to enhance VR experiences. She aimed to create a haptic device that allows users to feel weight and tactile sensations in a virtual environment.

    Mishkatul’s project involved creating a haptic feedback glove with actuators that simulate pressure, temperature, texture, and weight. She encountered various challenges, particularly with soldering small components, but her passion and perseverance helped her overcome these obstacles. She constructed prototypes and tested them, integrating them with VR technology to create immersive experiences like a virtual gym.

    Throughout her project, Mishkatul was guided by mentors, including Kenzie from TGS and Ross, a PhD student from Berkeley, who provided support and resources. She also conducted extensive research, reading over 50 academic papers to deepen her understanding of haptics and VR.

    Mishkatul’s future plans include studying biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester, where she hopes to further develop her ideas and contribute to advancements in haptic technology for prosthetic and robotic arms. Her project exemplifies her dedication to blending technology and empathy to create innovative solutions.

  4. Treat Yourself

    December 4, 2023 by Yana P.

    Driving Question:

    How can I design a wellness app that effectively promotes healthy lifestyle choices for individuals of all ages and fitness levels?

    Project Summary:

    ana P., from India and Zambia, decided to undertake her year-long mastery project to create a wellness app designed to promote healthy lifestyle choices suitable for individuals of all ages and fitness levels, which she called “Treat Yourself”

    Yana’s passion for baking and yoga, which have been consistent interests in her life despite other fleeting hobbies, inspired her to create this app. As she grew older and became busier with school and travel, she found herself spending less time on these activities. Through this project, Yana aims to reconnect with her passions, master them, and share them with others via her app.

    The primary goal of her project is to design a functioning wellness app that features healthy recipes and mindfulness activities. Currently halfway through the project, Yana has developed a prototype of the app using a low-code online platform. She prepared for the content creation by completing several online courses, including certifications in nutrition, vegan and gluten-free baking, and yoga teaching.

    Yana provides a brief demonstration of the app, showcasing its blog section where users can read about her experiences, such as meditating in Bosnia or trying a digital detox. Another feature of the app is yoga videos, which was a new and somewhat embarrassing experience for her as she transitioned from teaching live classes to filming and narrating them. Additionally, the app includes various recipes contributed by Yana and fellow TGs students, like gluten-free cupcakes, protein balls, and yogurt bowls.

    Looking ahead, Yana plans to consider publishing and the associated rights after graduating from TGS. She intends to create more content, develop additional prototypes, and release the app for feedback.

  5. AgeWise

    June 13, 2023 by Gabriel T.

    Driving Question:

    How can virtual assistant technologies be utilized to design a safe smart home for the elderly and dependent individuals?

    Project Summary:

    Gabriel T., one of our seniors from Ecuador, has undertaken a project to address the challenges faced by elderly and dependent individuals through the integration of virtual assistant technology into their homes. Motivated by the struggles his grandparents faced with dementia and limited mobility, Gabriel sought to enhance their daily lives while lightening the load on their caregivers. This project was driven by the belief that technology could significantly increase independence and quality of life for the elderly and dependent, while also supporting caregivers in their essential roles.

    The heart of Gabriel’s project lies in the strategic deployment of Amazon Alexa devices throughout his grandparents’ home. These devices were carefully placed to address specific needs: improving communication, enhancing organization, and providing entertainment. For instance, Alexa enabled his grandparents to communicate more effectively with their caregivers, despite challenges such as a weak voice. It also helped caregivers stay organized by reminding them of tasks that are easily overlooked in the busyness of daily routines, like adding items to the shopping list or remembering to administer medication.

    One of the most impactful aspects of Gabriel’s project was the introduction of routines and entertainment options through Alexa. His grandparents now had access to audiobooks, music, and routines that provided structure to their day. For instance, Gabriel programmed an alarm system that alerted caregivers if something was wrong, providing immediate assistance when needed. These enhancements not only improved the quality of life for his grandparents but also provided them with a greater sense of security and independence.

    The initiative also highlighted the broader potential of technology to support elderly and dependent individuals across different households. By documenting and sharing his approach, Gabriel aimed to create a replicable model that could be implemented in other households facing similar challenges. This approach not only illustrated the transformative power of technology but also emphasized the importance of compassion and human touch in caregiving.

    In conclusion, Gabriel T.’s project represents a significant step forward in leveraging technology to support vulnerable members of society. It demonstrated how digital solutions can be integrated into daily life to enhance independence, improve quality of care, and provide peace of mind to both caregivers and their charges. Through his efforts, Gabriel has shown that with thoughtful design and implementation, technology can play a pivotal role in promoting dignity, security, and happiness in the lives of elderly and dependent individuals.

  6. The Little Frog’s Dilemma

    by Samara M.

    Driving Question:

    How can I use my personal life experiences to write and illustrate a children’s book that explores the topics of race, culture and identity?

    Project Summary:

    Samara M., one of our senior students, shared a deeply personal project inspired by her multicultural background, having lived in Kenya, China, Malaysia, and Tanzania. Despite loving books like “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and “The Gruffalo,” she felt a lack of stories that reflected her unique experiences.

    Identifying as a third culture kid, Samara highlighted the challenges and feelings of isolation that come with this identity. To bridge this gap, she created a children’s story that resonates with the third culture experience and beyond.

    Samara conducted research across schools in Kenya and Tanzania, revealing a significant underrepresentation of black characters in children’s books. Motivated by these findings and Susan Sontag’s belief that stories shape our world, Samara wrote “The Little Frog’s Dilemma,” a tale set in a pond divided into four regions, each with distinct skills.

    The protagonist, a frog with parents from different regions, embodies a blend of these cultures but struggles to excel in any single skill. Despite initial failures in dancing and magic, the frog’s unique croak, a metaphor for its mixed identity, ultimately earns it the honor of performing for the queen.

    Through this story, Samara aims to reflect diverse experiences and foster connection. She encourages everyone to embrace and share their personal narratives, believing they have the power to ignite empathy and break down barriers.

    Samara’s hope is that “The Little Frog’s Dilemma” will resonate with readers and become a cherished story, inspiring others to create bridges through their own unique tales.

  7. The Hindsight Podcast

    by Raf W.

    Driving Question:

    How can I document the Successes of TGS alumni to inspire current and future students while simultaneously creating a TGS legacy?

    Product output from this module:

    The final product of this Mastery project will be a podcast show that continually releases episodes. In the episodes will be interviews with TGS alumni about where they are at now in life, what role TGS played in that, and how they define success.

    Project Summary:

    Raf W, a senior from the Netherlands, recognized the paradox of living in a digitally connected society where true connections often remain shallow. Despite over four and a half billion active social media users, many people, including 60 percent of the U.S. population, report feeling lonely. This disconnect between perceived and actual social connectivity is a significant issue, even within innovative communities like Raf’s boarding school, TGS.

    Understanding the unique bond shared by TGS students due to their shared experiences and challenges, Raf saw an opportunity to strengthen this community. Inspired by the need to combat global loneliness, Raf took it upon himself to create a more active and supportive environment within TGS.

    To address this, Raf launched the “Hindsight Podcast” as part of his Mastery project. This podcast serves as a platform for TGS alumni to share their work experiences, lifestyles, and personal journeys. The goal was to create a framework where knowledge and experiences of past students could benefit current and future students, reinforcing lifelong learning and community bonds.

    Over eight months, Raf produced and published four episodes, with another one on the way. The podcast has been well-received, providing comfort and reassurance to current students about the value of their unique experiences. Through these conversations, Raf himself learned that success is not a one-size-fits-all concept but a personal journey defined by individual criteria and fulfillment.

    Raf’s “Hindsight Podcast” exemplifies his commitment to making a positive impact on his community. By fostering deeper connections and sharing valuable insights, Raf aims to combat loneliness and strengthen the TGS community in a meaningful way.

  8. The Farafina Tales

    by Yeli K.

    Driving Question:

    How might I promote gender equality to a young population using traditional African tales?

    Project Summary:

    Yeli K, a senior from the United States, has written a children’s book titled “The Farafina Tales” aimed at promoting gender equality in West Africa. The book addresses critical issues such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and violence against women, which are prevalent in countries like Senegal, Guinea, and Liberia. Through interviews with experts across the continent, Yeli K identified factors contributing to these issues, including lack of legislation, ineffective law enforcement, negative cultural perceptions of women, and lack of economic opportunities.

    Inspired by a study showing how children’s literature can shift gender perspectives in Rwanda, Yeli K sought to promote gender equality among young West Africans through literature. This led to the creation of a 30,000-word novel manuscript for 8 to 12-year-olds, which won a Scholastic Gold Key for the New York region and a National Silver Medal in the Scholastic Art and Writing competition.

    The story follows a 13-year-old girl named Mariama, who, with the help of a secret society of African heroes, saves her school from developers aiming to turn it into a mall. To write this book, Yeli K undertook a 150-hour course on writing for children, receiving a distinction. This was followed by detailed world-building and character development, guided by feedback from mental health and gender-based violence experts, children’s book authors, mentors, and the target audience of children.

    Yeli K wrote 1,000 words daily during November, utilizing National Novel Writing Month resources and community support. After completing the initial drafts, the book was distributed to eight children aged 8 to 12 in Lagos, Nigeria, for critical feedback, which was incorporated into the final draft.

    Through this project, Yeli K aims to inspire young people globally to use art to ignite profound social changes, demonstrating the power of literature in addressing pervasive societal issues.

  9. Omana

    August 3, 2022 by Sofia V. and Marily M.

    For their Mastery project, Marily and Sofia created OMANA – a clothing brand focused on redesigning feminism. Marily served as the design director and Sofia as the business director. Together they launched their first design- FURIA.

    Fire is the main element of this design. Here, it represents the fires that take place in the protests because of anger or conflicts, as well as the fury of the feminist movement and the extreme strength that appears when all women come together.

    Purple represents feminism and greens the fight for legal abortion. Pink symbolizes intersectionality, and orange the feminist movement’s protests. When wearing FURIA, you feel empowered.

  10. The West Egg: Taking Eggs from Farm to Table

    June 8, 2021 by Hanna Westphal

    Driving Question: How can I make a farm-to-table egg delivery service become a viable business in a suburban community?

    What did you take away from this project? I learned that perseverance is very important in order to get the end result you want. When I thought I was done and then realized there was something that bugged me in my video I made sure to take the time and fix it. This was very frustrating at times but in the end I was very happy and confident with my proposal.

    What are you most proud of? I’m most proud of the extremely useful life skills I learned throughout this process….and that I made $485 of total income.

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