Personal Projects: International Baccalaureate at the École Internationale Montgomery

The Personal Project at EIM is explained by Veronica Santocildes, Personal Project Coordinator at The Montgomery International School Brussels (EIM).

Group photo of EIM students and staff
Imagine you could take a year off work to do a paid internship, doing anything, anything you want… You have one full year, you can dedicate it to work on whatever you want… let your imagination fly: science, cooking, creating a work of art, writing that self-help book or simply devoting time to your hobbies.What is the catch? At the end of the year you need to prove that you have learnt something, you have contributed or produced something. What is your plan? Where do you start? How do you divide your time? What materials do you need? How much money do you need? How will you know you have achieved your purpose?

This is the Personal Project

MYP5 students at EIM embark on a year-long project to devote themselves to learning something they want to learn and create a final product to show their learning. They come up with their ideas, they create their own plan and they are in charge of making it a reality. The Personal Project is an iterative process, students plan, work and they go back to the drawing board to adapt their plans, to review their assessment, to understand what needs to change.The Personal Project allows students to become more independent and autonomous, they are in charge of their work and their schedule, it gives students freedom, and at the same time structure to develop their organizational and self management skills. Of course, they have the help of a supervisor, who guides them in the process by making questions and ensuring all steps are being followed.At the end of the year, students submit a report explaining their process, the challenges they faced and how these were overcome. They also participate in a celebration, where the whole community gathers together to congratulate them on finishing this process, which marks the end of their middle school and the passing to the IBDP program.At EIM we take great pride in the work of our students, we encourage them to go the extra mile and think outside the box. Throughout the years, we have been witnesses of an array of creative Personal Projects, for example, a student learnt sign language in French and was able to translate the chorus of a song for all the community, another student made a video showing different swimming techniques and their benefits for your health and body, or a student who created a "Family book" by collecting anecdotes, recipes, pictures and more information about their family in Italy. This student visited the town where their grandparents had lived and found records and articles about their ancestors, compiled all the information in a book, edited, printed it and gave it as a present to their family.But what is the Personal Project about?

The Personal Project is about passion

EIM cartoon
For their Personal Project JD created their own Manga. Fascinated by the genre, with amazing talent and a genuine interest to tell the tale of a different kind of hero, JD combined their interest for Manga with the desire to create a story about a kid with Aspergers. The result was the compelling story of Hitori, “an orphan teenager, who dreams of becoming a knight of Elidon”. In their own words, the Personal project “was an opportunity to learn more about my passion”JD is now getting ready to sit for his final IB DP examinations, and is headed towards France first and then to Japan to study graphic and digital design.
EIM graphic intestinal cancers
EIM final product
TK had studied the topic of “Cancers” in MYP4. Having had family members diagnosed and recovered from this terrible disease and with parents who make conscious decisions regarding the consumption of ultra-processed foods they began their journey with a question in mind “How do processed foods increase the risk of cancer?” This was a challenging topic, TK collected all necessary information and decided to create an animated video for children to explain the correlation they had found between processed foods and cancer. This Project was challenging in a lot of different and interesting ways. TK not only investigated the topic, they also learnt to use a special tablet and technical animation skills. With the premise “The best student is someone who can explain something complex in the most simplest way” They created and shared with the world a video about the investigation. Interestingly, this Personal Project constituted the seed for TK’s IB DP Biology extended essay.

The Personal Project is about curiosity

EIM kitchen graphic
EIM sugar and herbs
SC states four reasons why they chose their Personal Project.
  • “My culture
  • My interest in three sciences
  • My interest in history
  • My love for food.”
SC decided to create a book, but not just a cooking book!. Their project is about Indian food, their culture and features experiments in the kitchen, these are based on the investigation of the student about molecular chemistry, microorganisms, electrochemistry and electromagnetism, their interest in sciences and includes history on different dishes, ingredients and spices, their interest in history. The final product is a 160 page book filled with information about the chemical composition of our food and detailed step-by-step experiments, analysis and recipes.The student did not only achieve their personal goals, they did it in record time! The book is now part of EIM’s library and is available for download on this link was curious to know how all their interests could be combined and found a way, not only to do the work but also to enjoy the process and leave something for others to share their experience.

The Personal Project is about innovation

EIM floor plan
EIM time frame
DR departed from their interest in architecture. Having grown up in beautiful Rome they were attracted by the sculptural buildings surrounding them, moreover, as DR states “My grandfather was an architect and took part in many important monument restorations in Rome. He was also my inspiration”DR decided to create a model house using eco-friendly materials. This model had to fulfil certain requirements, created exclusively by the student, for example it should respect a certain scale, have a 70 square meter floor plan and showcase a modern design. This project presented the student with the possibility to find an external source, which aided DR in the development of interpersonal skills, as meetings had to be appointed, interviews had to take place and they had to overcome obstacles related to the complexity of the selection of materials.The final result is a model created with the utmost care for the materials used, for example, all painting used in the model is water based, the walls and floors are made with cork wood or bamboo and the furniture was created by recycling materials found at home. The beauty of the Personal Project is giving the students a platform to showcase their interests and the freedom to do it in the way they like.Due to covid, we have had to adapt and have the Personal Project celebrations online. Students have produced their own website to display their work, creating documents, posters, presentations and pictures to share with the community their experience in a meaningful way.This year will not be different, our Personal Project exhibition will be held online. If you would like to attend this event send an email to to get a personalized invitation and all the information to join.

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