A CAS project is a collaborative, well-considered series of sequential CAS experiences, engaging students in one or more of the CAS strands of creativity, activity, and service. CAS students must be involved in at least one CAS project during their CAS programme.
The primary purpose of the CAS project is to ensure participation in sustained collaboration. Through this level of engagement students may discover the benefits of teamwork and of achievements realized through an exchange of ideas and abilities. A CAS project challenges students to show initiative, demonstrate perseverance, and develop skills such as those of cooperation, problem-solving and decision-making.
A CAS project involves collaboration between a group of students or with members of the wider community. Students work as part of a team, with all members being contributors. A CAS project offers students the opportunity to be responsible for, or to initiate, a part of or the entire CAS project. Working collaboratively also provides opportunities for individual students to enhance and integrate their personal interests, skills and talents into the planning and implementation of CAS projects.
All CAS projects should use the CAS stages as a framework for implementation to ensure that all requirements are met.
A CAS project can address any single strand of CAS, or combine two or all three strands. The following examples are provided to help generate further ideas without limiting the scope and direction of a CAS project.
- Creativity: A student group plans, designs and creates a mural.
- Activity: Students organize and participate in a sports team including training sessions and matches against other teams.
- Service: Students set up and conduct tutoring for people in need.
- Creativity and activity: Students choreograph a routine for their marching band.
- Service and activity: Students plan and participate in the planting and maintenance of a garden with members of the local community.
- Service and creativity: Students identify that children at a local school need backpacks and subsequently design and make the backpacks out of recycled materials.
- Creativity, activity, and service: Students rehearse and perform a dance production for a community retirement home.
All CAS projects are designed with a defined purpose and goals. Individual students identify one or more learning outcomes to further guide their role and responsibilities in the CAS project. Students will likely identify more outcomes, or modify expected outcomes during the CAS project and/or at its completion.
A minimum of one month is recommended for a CAS project, from planning to completion. CAS projects of longer duration can provide even greater scope and opportunities for all participants and should be encouraged. Students should aim to undertake their CAS project locally and, if possible, engage in more than one CAS project over the duration of their CAS programme.
As expected throughout CAS, students reflect on their CAS project experience. Due to the collaborative nature of the CAS project, having occasions to reflect with others can prove most informative and assist students in gaining insights into the process of their endeavour as well as personal growth.
When a CAS project addresses the CAS strand of service (known as service project), students must take into account the opinions and expectations of others involved and focus on meaningful and authentic needs to ensure actions are respectful and reciprocal. Awareness of the possible impact and consequences of the students’ actions should be part of the planning process. Where possible, service projects should involve working alongside community members with ongoing communication. When the service project involves the use of an external facilitator such as a non-government organization or a commercial provider, care should be taken to ensure that the facilitator acts in accordance with the IB mission statement and CAS requirements.
A service project that includes interaction with and appreciation of diverse social or cultural backgrounds can increase international-mindedness and engagement with issues of global significance. International service projects are acceptable if clear goals and outcomes are established, understood, and based on the expectation of compelling benefits expected for all stakeholders. If a service project is conducted outside the local context, it is recommended that there is some form of continuation. For example, students could research the community served and educate themselves further about the issues involved, develop an advocacy programme for the served community, or develop greater awareness of a related need in their local community leading to some form of local action. This may inspire the next group of CAS students.
For any service project it is important to ensure that there is:
- a genuine need for the service project, which has been stated and agreed upon by the potential partners
- if required, a liaison officer who has a good relationship with the community where the service project is based
- an understanding of the level of student participation that is feasible in the service project
- a clear assessment of potential risks to participating students
- approval from the school administration for the service project
- a demonstration of how the CAS stages were followed
- a thorough evaluation of the benefits of the service project for all involved.
Purposeful relationships between students and community members leading to sustainable service projects are potentially the most rewarding for all concerned. As community needs change, students’ responses should also evolve to meet these new circumstances. When a service project initiated by one group is adopted by other students, the new students must ensure the need is authentic or make the necessary adjustments and ensure their contribution is relevant.