CAS stands for Creativity, Action, and Service, and it is one of three essential elements that every student must complete to receive the IB Diploma. While not formally assessed, CAS provides opportunities for students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development through hands-on learning.
One of the components of CAS is a ‘CAS Project’, a collaborative series of student-initiated CAS experiences over several months engaging students in one or more CAS strands (creativity, activity, and service). Following the five CAS stages of Investigation, Preparation, Demonstration, Action, and Reflection, students can explore their passions whilst challenging themselves to initiate purposeful action around defined goals. The following months will bring a series of interviews where the STC Media Team interviews different students around school to highlight their CAS projects and initiatives.
This week, Max De Souza, Athena Ho, Jolene Hui and Joshua Bhanja spoke to the STC Media Team about their CAS project – Green Mints Green Minds. Green Mints Green Minds wants to create a practical and fun project about gardening by growing small plants at school and running online lessons educating students on how to manage and maintain a simple garden.
Clockwise from left: Athena Ho, Max De Souza, Kody Tang (special mention), Joshua Bhanja, and Jolene Hui
Can you introduce your CAS project? What is the purpose of your CAS project?
We all have different reasons for starting this CAS project. Jolene wanted to expand her interests into areas where she rarely interacts. Josh wanted to make lesson plans to foster a better understanding of gardening in the younger year groups, and Max wanted to gain work skills that are useful to him. Lastly, Athena is interested in the earth sciences and botany but could not find any projects that piqued her interest in that area, so she wanted to start her own.
Our CAS project covers the three CAS strands: creativity, action, and service. Gardening is creativity as we introduce students to home gardening and how to create one. Physical activity happens when we move around to take care of plants. Lastly, the service strand is met by us making donations using the produce we have grown to Feeding HK; this charity redistributes unwanted food to the needy.
What impact/outcome do you hope your CAS project will have on the school community?
Our main goal is to educate students on managing and maintaining a simple garden. We also want to equip students with teaching commitment and organisational skills.
We have also considered a further expansion of Green Mints; this activity would be an interesting school-wide project. Starting a school garden means students can help grow fruits and vegetables and learn more about how food ends up on their plates.
Any changes due to COVID-19? How have you adapted?
COVID-19 restrictions have limited our scope, inhibiting our project from reaching its full potential. We have done as much as adaptively possible by periodically returning to school to maintain consistent quality and progress before the complete restriction of students on school grounds recently.
We also have difficulties overcoming the consistency that plants need to be maintained. They require a lot of care and attention that we could not provide as we are not allowed onto school grounds. However, the caretakers of the open-air garden have been a huge help during this time. We would like to thank them for updating us on our plants and their progress.
Do you think home gardens are a solution to ensure sustainable food systems?
We say a sustainable subsistence-inclined system can help distribute food easier. It may nudge markets to decrease the prices of products due to lower demand and higher supply. Both outcomes can improve distribution and make products more affordable to the underprivileged.
However, the issue is that gardening will always require resources that are not always readily available or affordable – including time. For one, some say we can develop the land used for gardening into better infrastructure to push the economy further. There is also the issue of materials to grow said plants – soil, water, plant pots and fertiliser, to name a few. These are just some of the monetary commitments to put towards gardening, not accounting for the quickly emerging issue of environmental damage, which may influence the distribution of materials.
Any tips for students looking to grow their home garden)?
You first need to consider the environmental factors, e.g. what space you have available, your garden’s typical climate, and what plants you can realistically grow in your surroundings. When selecting your preferred plants, you also need to understand specific needs for the said plant, such as how much water and sunlight, at what intervals to give fertiliser etc.
We highly recommend starting with beginner plants, especially if you plan to grow plants from seeds. If not, managing already sprouted/ mature herb plants is an excellent place to start. Creating a table for each plant’s watering/ fertilising schedule and needs also help us keep track of when we need to do for each plant, as committing to a plan purely from memory is complicated.
Personally, gardening gives us peace of mind as it is an activity with flexible arrangements. It is therapeutic for us to be able to carry out a hobby we enjoy very much on school grounds in our own time, and we highly recommend students to start a home garden.
Written by: Christie Lam
Edited by: Kadence Wong