Successful learning and the ability to thrive in adulthood is not purely based on academic results. Every student is unique, and the revitalised Research Project subject - Activating Identities and Futures (AIF) - is designed to allow each student to build upon their own knowledge, skills and capabilities.
Each students’ focus for the AIF should stem from their interests, passions and aspirations …or a combination of several of these. Approaches, contexts, and strategies will vary with individual students. Some students may develop a product, plan a service or social enterprise, examine a problem, question, or theory using research methodology, or expanding a personal passion. Others may decide to examine or extend their vocational aspirations or entrepreneurial ideas.
Nazareth students studied the AIF for the first time in 2022. Most of our students chose something that was highly valuable to them, and this makes the deep learning that they did over the semester, even more personal and rewarding.
The subject gives students considerable freedom in their approach and Nazareth students responded in imaginative ways, using different strategies and perspectives, and actively seeking feedback on their learning. Some students took a very entrepreneurial approach. Others explored issues close to their family, their passions, or their future beyond school.
Click the topics below to read more about these students' individual AIF Projects:
Studying the AIF was a fun journey. My perspective was at the start to make a business out of the AIF project and to make some money. I wanted to try thrifting in Australia, so I went to op shops to find good quality clothes which I found to be challenging. Although, I enjoyed creating an Instagram account which I used in promoting my business of selling the clothes.
The reason I choose my topic was because I was interested in business and how to build a brand which was my intention and using Instagram. I choose to do vintage clothing as I thought it is quite trendy and popular at the moment.
The highlights of my learning were building my Instagram account and finding the products to sell and making sure they were good quality.
I believe the AIF is a better way for students to learn. With the research and journey of the project, you get more freedom and guidance. I feel it fit my needs as I prefer to speak rather than write my assignment. AIF provided me with the option to voice record which fit my preferred learning which is more verbal.
The advice I would give to future students studying the AIF is “choose something you’re passionate about and consider doing something that is practical as it makes it fun.”
For my AIF I decided I wanted to create jumpers for dogs at dog shelters. I researched why dogs need them, the effects it can have from not having them, I choose dogs at the RSPCA as they are less fortunate and don’t have a home to support them with that.
I choose this topic because I love dogs and wanted to help them. Something I learned when doing the AIF project was that I didn’t have any previous knowledge of sewing and how to make dog jumpers which was a learning journey.
To make the jumpers I used a sewing machine and I sourced second-hand clothes from op shops, which I then donated to dogs at the RSPCA.
The highlights of my topic were learning and understanding more about dogs, and how I can help them. As well as the process of sewing and being able to take something that was second-hand and turn it into something new.
The AIF offers a lot of freedom with what you can do and how you do it, especially as there wasn’t a limit to a portfolio page, meaning it allowed me to add more information to show my planning.
My advice to future students studying the AIF is "do something that you have an interest in”.
When considering my topic for the AIF I was thinking of Alzheimer’s disease which is a type of dementia. But I decided to investigate the biological perspective, and I found out that it is an irreversible and urological disease, and it meant that there wasn’t a lot for me to go into depth with.
I research about the brain where I discovered that there are proteins in the brain which clump together to form a plague. When this forms it is like cancer and it pushes down on part of the brain which is how different people get affected by the disease in different ways. For example, if someone has dementia and they cannot walk properly it is because that part of the brain has been impacted.
I am interested in design and architecture, and I discovered that in Tasmania there is a Dementia Village called Korongee Dementia Village which is the only one in Australia. When I researched further, I found out about the design principles and why it is different from standard age care practices. I then researched internationally to see what their designs were. I then interviewed architectural forms and found out how these design principles are different, and what changes have been made in the new villages. These changes included aspects such as comfort and a sense of belonging. For example, bright coloured walls make it easier for the patient to recognise where they are going, such as if it’s a red wall it’s their room and if it’s a yellow wall it’s the toilet. Simple design aspects such as using timber flooring give a sense of warmth and add tone and colour.
For my learning output, I was thinking of designing a small space as I am interested in architecture. However, I needed more time than I had to complete this. Instead, I wrote letters to the major aged care providers, with the intention to try to get them to initiate the principles and design elements in their practices. I also wrote a letter to the Health Minister, but due to the change of government, I don’t think it did much to initiate this. I also interviewed family perspectives of family members who have someone who has dementia which I found interesting.
I choose this topic because I have an interest in architecture, but also out of curiosity with how design has an impact on these patients.
The highlights of my topic and the AIF was interviewing and talking to family member who has someone with dementia and getting a family’s perspective provided me with an understanding on how it is impacting the patient. Another highlight was also finding the Dementia Village in Tasmania.
I found the AIF gave a lot of freedom in learning, and an opportunity to study our interests, without having set tasks that have to be followed.
The advice I would give future students studying the AIF is do what you actually want to do and when you are given tasks, just get them done!
For my AIF I choose to investigate a sustainable way of building surfboards. Currently, 400 pounds of CI2 is produced every time a surfboard is made. One surfboard produces more pounds of CI2 than a car in one year. My main aim was to try to reduce that. I investigated finding items that could be used instead as an alternative. Using cigarette butts was a good alternative as it is one of the most common things that can be littered especially when looking around skate parks, beaches, and anywhere in the community. I spent about a month collecting littered cigarettes. This then went into a wooden frame which was then filled with resin and was three inches thick of cigarette butts and five-foot-long. This then went around some foam which was filled with resin. This was the overall thing that I built for my AIF project.
I choose this topic because surfing is my main hobby. I have seen surfboards being made and I think it is one of the coolest ideas for me to create a board for myself, but also for the community as well. Cleaning up the environment, making a better surfboard and cleaning up the litter on the beach and the public places, and then putting it into a surfboard is big for me and the community.
I learnt how far I can go with making something, putting effort in and getting an end product. The effort I put in showed in the end. Especially as I got a finished product which was something I aimed for.
I really enjoyed the AIF, it is very open-ended, especially with my topic. My advice for future students studying the AIF is “pick a topic that is new, and inventive and this will help push yourself forward as a student".
For AIF I decided to look at the effect of the Airforce Cadets on teens and adolescents. It involved me talking to people that work in Cadets and personally reflecting on my own opinions as well. I was a bit nervous that the topic was a bit biased as I have been doing Cadets for five years, and personally, I have had positive impacts doing cadets, and I wanted to see if other people doing the Cadets had similar experiences then me or if they had a negative experience.
The highlight of my AIF was interviewing people, as it was the main part of my research that helped pivot ideas and perspectives that I had not thought of. My survey was also a highlight as it reached around 230 people on a Facebook forum, and the participants answered my survey in lots of depth which really helped project my ideas into the Community.
The AIF is a passion project, and it is less structured than our other subjects, which offers the freedom to study how you like and the topics you are passionate about.
The advice I have for future students studying the AIF is “go into it with an open mind, even if you don’t know what you want to do.”
My AIF evolved around advertising for a small business called Bella Wines. I chose this topic because I love marketing and advertising I have a huge passion for photography and filmmaking, and I wanted to find a topic that could accommodate those interests.
I used Instagram to advertise which was the main platform I used, and I was able to go to the Mount Barker Markets every Saturday where Bella Wines sold their products as they don’t have a Cellar Door. I took photos of their products and drove the content on their Instagram page.
I loved doing this and my photography skills have improved significantly from it. I have always been into nature and portraiture photography and stepping out of my comfort zone has pushed me to develop my product photography skills which I thoroughly enjoyed.
A highlight was speaking to the owner of Bella Wines about my ideas. From this I realised I am good at organising and being able to think about how to run a business. AIF allowed me to be equipped for that role, and I was able to fill in a hole in this business and learn from it.
Another highlight was interviewing, and I noticed connections, especially in the marketing industry are important and through interviews, I was able to learn so much.
I really enjoyed the AIF because I did lots of practical learning, and I learned much more from that, than looking at a page and reading about it. I learned more authentic learning that I couldn’t read online, and I found AIF pushes learning from what it has previously been.
The advice I would give future Students is to research early and continue researching, and don’t stop!