At the heart of the Connect 5 program is the notion that our personal passions drive us to learn new things and connect us to a world of ideas never thought of or explored before.
Personalized Learning Makes for Passionate Learning!
In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, then Head of School Dan Waterman and Peter Handstein (Hape Group CEO) shared their dream of introducing a new way of learning at AIAN. Learning, where students identify their own passions and interests, and explore learning through Passion Projects.
The vision was later shared with a core group of staff members who would develop, introduce and implement the Connect 5 Program to the whole school community in the 2020-21 academic school year. Students responded with much enthusiasm as they explored their own interests and learn more about what they are passionate about.
Mr Ryan Godlewski, Head of School since 2021, and his Leadership Team share the same sentiment for Connect 5 and have grown the program into another successful AIAN project.
The Pandemic made us reconsider everything! All of us have the same amount of time, the difference is how we use it. With Connect 5 we don't want to only hear what you have learnt, we want to see it!
- Peter Handstein (CEO, Hape Group)
Donna Zhang, Connect 5 Coordinator
Connect 5 is coordinated by Donna Zhang. The coordinator, together with other AIAN staff, ensures that the program runs throughout the year. Wednesday afternoons are booked for Connect 5 work days which could include anything from working on a Passion Project at school to visiting a company to learn more about a topic.
A Passion Project is the catalyst of learning in the Connect 5 program. All students have to identify a passion that can be used as a vehicle to make the types of connections that bring meaning to their involvement in Connect 5. It could be a no-brainer or instant decision for some and for others a challenging process to get to a topic or interest that will eventually transform into a Passion Project. The program is designed as to not pressure or force students into a certain direction, but with supervisors and mentors there to help students, they eventually decide on a specific Passion Projects.
Passion Projects can take anything from a semester to a matter of years to fully develop and explore. For students who complete a Passion Project mid-year, there is a process to identify and start a new Passion Project, with the needed support.
Mentors play a very big role in a successful Passion Project. A Mentor can be any person with extended knowledge or experience in the topic of a student's Passion Project.
Students are guided as to how to identify and approach a Mentor to help with any aspect of their Passion Projects. As part of the Connect 5 program, the coordinators organize events at school to introduce mentors from the five different Connect 5 categories, namely Technology, Science, The Arts, Business and Society.
Some students make use of several mentors for a single Passion Project, in order to get the needed support. This is especially the case where the Passion Project is very wide and cover different categories or specialties.
Another aspect of the program is Site-Visits. These are on-site visits by students and Connect 5 staff to broaden the experience of the students. In some instances the whole Connect 5 student body travel and attend a place of interest. This is especially the case when there is wider opportunity for learning from visiting a person, company or institution.
In the past, Connect 5 has visited factories, music schools, businesses and other interesting places. Visits are arranged by the Connect 5 Coordinators, and details are communicated a week or two in advance.
Idea Fairs are hosted to create a platform for students and professionals can connect, mentor and collaborate. These fairs are think thanks that expose our students to a world of opportunities and possibilities within the Connect 5 program.
Mentors and speakers from our immediate community as well as other countries have been hosted at Idea Fairs. Some of these connections end up future establishing future networking and partnering opportunities.
This, is just the beginning!
We have had presidents and CEO's of international companies, media experts, artists, composers, designers, business people, to mention but a few. And this is just the beginning!