The Personal Project is a new and exciting outlet for me as I have never made a project or a work of mine that has to be this extensive. It is very major to choose a topic that I am interested in. The topic has to enrich my knowledge and show off my capabilities.
Since the project has to involve my interests and skills, I have decided to do a project that helps me grow in two fields I enjoy: filmmaking and the preservation of the environment.
Although I do not think these would be suitable career paths for me, I still think that I will gain a lot from researching and taking action on this project. Furthermore, I have always wanted to delve deeper in the art of filmmaking so hopefully I will gain a better understanding of the process of making a film even though the product is going to be a few minute short not a full-length film.
Since I had never heard of the Personal Project before October 2018 I had to really think over the planning aspect of this project. I had about 4-5 months to finish this and even less time till I had to turn in my first version. So I learnt a thing or two about time management when I was done with the Personal Project – as described in my reflection.
My goal is to educate my peers on the real impact of recycling. The goal is quite challenging as people my age are somewhat stubborn but I know that they are willing to learn.
I had to carry out research about recycling and find out more about shooting videos.
My goal was achieved by answering my guiding question “How does recycling really affect the environment?” in a video format. The video is evidence of my research and growth over the project, it portrays the information found. If successful the video will not only educate people but also be a representation of my work and time put in the project.
In my opinion, the global context that best fits my Personal Project is Globalization and Sustainability. It is the study of “how we organize ourselves” and societal decision-making. I chose it because recycling is a human-made system and also largely an economic activity with an impact on the environment.
The societal decision-making subheading of this global context is the one that helped me understand how societies as a whole change their beliefs, so I can apply that to my product – convince my peers to recycle. I looked into societal decision-making examples such as climate change and from this I found out what works and does not work to convince people. I concluded on my own that people do not like to be belittled and told they are not smart to convey a message, while convincing people you have to show them that they are equals.
Most of my teen years I have been interested in recycling and sustainability. How can I use this product twice? How can I change this piece of clothing to give it a new life? All these questions were relevant to me since I was about 11 but as time went on I began to not only worry about using products twice but also about the trash my family was producing. I was very lucky that my parents were so open-minded because they heard my concern and we started recycling at home with the help of recycling bins. I learned what materials are recyclable and which ones are not.
My biggest learning experience was going to the “Getliņi” landfill and recycling center. It is just outside of Riga, Latvia. There a professional not only told about all the work they do there but also about their efforts to recycle more and how it is challenging because people do not do it at home and there are no mandatory recycling laws for big companies. This knowledge makes it much easier for me to understand recycling on a big scale not just at home.
In 7th grade biology class we studied recycling and doing it at home, I made a presentation on how many of my classmates recycle for which I made a survey. This helped me with surveying people for this project.
In 9th grade geography class we had to make a project on landfills and how they affect the soil and groundwater. What I found out is that a lot of the garbage that is buried poisons the groundwater so healthy communities cannot live around landfills. At first I had forgotten what I was taught, but when I began to research it came back to me.
I have made many video projects for school so I know how to take decent shots and edit videos so making the end product will not be that hard as I have basic prior skills.
A large part of my personal project was conducting research to extend my knowledge further. My primary research was from internet sites. I only used the sites that seemed reliable. I looked for sites from established institutions like the UN and steered clear of commercial sites that may have biased or even fake information. I also avoided information from anonymous authors and checked the date of the articles because they might have outdated sources. In this way I gained most of the facts for the project. I did use Wikipedia to find out what recyclates are. Because everyone can edit Wikipedia, it might not have been a reliable source but the information obtained was factual and had very little bias. Wikipedia gave the definition and the use of recyclates which I checked and an article published under the Wageningen University & Research, which is a reliable source as it is an official university web page, stated the same information.
I also made a survey to find out how many people in 3 different age brackets recycle and if they think it is needed. This gave me first-hand information that I knew was reliable because I had gotten it myself.
In the process of finding information I also talked to my biology teacher to find out more about how landfills poison the soil and groundwater around it. I thought this would be the field of expertise for her and I was correct. She was able to provide me with basic information about how people can’t live near these landfills because not only is the air quality is not great but also they can’t grow anything edible in the ground because it could be poisonous for the human body.
I did my research and displayed it in my product. I have chosen my product to be an educational video on the real impacts of recycling. Since my final product is not only a product but also an outcome, there are criteria for the product but also areas that must be met in order for me to have a successful project. I had to have all the information that answers the question of my project.
Developing criteria for my product
My product had to be:
• Well organized in terms of portraying the information, it cannot have too much information
• Colorful and well edited – the video had to be bright and pleasing to the eye
• With catchy frames that do not have too much text in them
• Educational for my peers which would include people from ages from 14 to 20
The main audience of my educational video was younger people like students ages from 14 to 20. I wanted them to understand recycling better but in order to do that the product had to follow the criteria I listed. From experience I knew that the video should not be too long as the attention span of students is fairly short especially if the media they are watching is about something they might consider boring. The video had to show all of the information I had found in a compact way that highlighted the most important parts. Using stop motion was a very effective way to display all of the research because stop motion has a lot of moving parts which catch the eye. And if done with colorful materials my goal of interesting younger people in my product was achieved.
Research had to be done on filmmaking to ensure the greatest quality of the video I could achieve, It was important that the video was well made not only well researched. I had to implement the rule of thirds so I framed the movie in a way that was more pleasing to the eye thus better in getting more people interested and hopefully even pursued to recycle themselves. Finding the best editing software was also major as I wanted the editing to not be too flashy but look professional.
I knew that if I wanted a successful product due dates had to be set so I did not procrastinate and make everything in the last moment. I set myself small goals for each time period. For example I set a goal for myself to have all the research completed by December. This way I finished my work on time and it did not feel rushed. This also helped me to not feel overwhelmed by the workload of the project.
After completing my plan I started working on my product. The first thing to do was gathering all of the information I need. The most challenging task was figuring out with what camera I would capture the video. I chose my phone because that was more convenient for me. Most of the video is stop motion so I had to take individual photos of each frame which was challenging. For the stop motion frames I cut out words from colorful papers to portray the information I had found while researching. I also needed to make charts out of paper. Some things I did write with my hand. I used a lot of digital design tools. I made little animations that brought the video to life. Making the video a desirable length was laborious as I needed many shots. I also needed to fix some of the shots in Photoshop afterwards as some of them were framed awkwardly or looked bad. I also did color correcting while editing because the lighting for all the frames was not same. This was because the video was not shot on the same day and one of the days was sunny but the other one was a bit cloudy which gave the video a blue tone that looked weird. It was very difficult to edit together the individual frames because it was hard to determine for how long each frame should be shown so I had to figure out how fast others can read.
Time management was a problem for me with this project as I did not really understand the work I needed to do until about late October while all the plans stated that work had to have been started in September so that set me back. It is hard to make an educational video in about a month while you are doing your studies and do not have any days off for this project specifically because sometimes it did feel that I had to make a choice between studying for a test or doing research for this project. I wish that I had been informed about this project earlier.
I actually had to scrap one version of the product as 5 files were corrupted by my computer so I had to go through all of my files and see which ones were missing. This did not speed up my process at all, it set me back actually, I was very discouraged after this this because I had put hard work into making the stop motion parts and had to recreate the missing shots. It did not help that on top of all this my weekends were filled with studying for school an since winter starts in November, it was getting dark faster so some of the shots do not match the ones that were shot when it was brighter outside which now was a reoccurring problem. This was also why I turned to digital design as you do not need any good lighting for that.
My knowledge of recycling has increased greatly. Before the Personal Project I thought I knew quite a lot about recycling and sustainability, I am happy to say that now I know a whole lot more about recycling than I ever did before., for example, I used to think that almost everything could be recycled but now I know that any black plastic cannot be recycled in any way. The extensive research opened my eyes to many other ways to preserve the environment than just recycling.
I discovered the zero-waste movement and learnt lot about fast-fashion. Now I have cut out using straws of my everyday life because I discovered that they are non-recyclable and end up in the landfills. I also bought a reusable water bottle so I don’t buy bottled water every day before school. These changes might seem small but another thing that I now know because of the project is that every little thing helps. For example, if everyone in the U.S.A. recycled just one plastic bottle those materials could make more than 54 million T-shirts.
My research skills have also improved greatly. I can now tell if a source is reliable or not way faster than before. This will prove to my advantage when writing any other papers in the future as I will be prepared to find the most interesting, compelling and important information a source has to offer.
I also discovered a new interest of mine – animation and digital design. I had never looked into this field but while making this video I had a few difficulties with real life shots so I had to find a different way to portray my information. By browsing the internet I found tutorials on implementing digital design and animation in simple stop motion videos. So I did it and it turned out great. The little animations really enhanced my film and made it more interesting, but more importantly I found a new passion from doing the animations. If I had not done this project I might have never even found out that I like digital animation and the process of doing it.
The International Baccalaureate states that IB students demonstrate 10 different qualities such as: Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced and Reflective.
I think that while making this project I have improved on 4 of these qualities: knowledgeable, thinker, communicator and reflective. Firstly, I think I have become a lot more knowledgeable on the topic of recycling as I already stated in „Reflections on my Knowledge”. I carried out loads of researched that really broadened my view on recycling. Secondly, I think I really became a better thinker. There was a lot of problem solving to be done in the making of the product which I successfully did. Thirdly, I believe I became a better communicator. I had to communicate with my supervisor in an appropriate matter and I had to set meetings with her. That took a lot of planning and arranging also which, again, improved my thinker quality.
Furthermore my reflecting skills have also become better because of the process journal (Appendix) that I had to write in while making the project. I wrote down ideas and steps of my work and analyzed it all thoroughly.