CAS Ideas Continued: S

As you all likely know at this point, S is the portion of the IB CAS experience that stands for Service! Honestly, I think this part of your CAS experience can be the hardest to be consistent with, especially if your school does not have any service clubs to help you out. If your school does have service-based clubs and you’re just not in them, JOIN. I have been a member of Key Club (shoutout to all of my Key Clubbers) since freshman year, and it is a club in which I have made the most friends and connections with my community. You can also look into clubs like Be A Leader or Interact. These clubs are often national or international, so they are backed by a big parent organization. Key Club, for example, is backed by Kiwanis. Also, I know for Key Club at least, there are more clubs before and after high school so you can still work under Kiwanis. In college, you can join Circle K, and elementary students can be a part of Builders’ Club. And, of course, you can join Kiwanis as an adult and continue to serve.

Even if you do not want to join a service club (which I very highly recommend because it makes completing this part of CAS so much simpler), you still have to complete your S portion to receive credit for CAS. So, here are some ideas that I have seen done or dreamed of doing for you to serve your school, community, or even the world.

Clean-Up: Y’all, Earth Day is a week away! One of the best ways you can serve your community is by cleaning up trash around your neighborhood. Everywhere you go, there is going to be litter, and all that trash is bound to harm the animals or plant life around you. Besides, no one likes to see trash around their home or business. Get together a big group (maybe all the Diploma students in your grade?) and choose a day a week that you go out and clean up the area. Just a couple hours a week can make an amazing difference- and save the planet!

Tutor: Considering you are enrolled in one of the most difficult academic programs in the world, I am going to assume that you are competent in at least one subject- enough that you can tutor someone else. Tutoring is one thing, but if you’re going to use it as CAS, I would suggest you spice it up a bit; try to connect with an organization or tutor people of a certain demographic. I think an untapped service destination is really the homeless youth in communities, so try to find a way to tutor kids who may not have a home to go to. Or connect with a local school (preferably not your own) and offer up your services.

Walk Dogs: *cough* this also counts for Activity *cough*. As long as you are not making any money from it, you can call this service. I would suggest you look around your neighborhood and ask your neighbors if they would like you to get their dog some exercise. Exercise is so important for animals, and unfortunately so many people do not give their dogs enough of it. Another great place to find dogs to exercise is an animal shelter. You can ask if you can walk their dogs and I almost guarantee they will say yes. Some shelters now will even ask you to take pictures with the dogs and post them on social media to help them get adopted (Always ask before taking pictures of dogs- or anyone for that matter)!

Write: There are two demographics of people that I often find need a lot of love: the elderly and the ill. I am sure you have probably seen those homes for the elderly who need special assistance, and coming from someone who has worked in one, it can be sad. Some people in these places do not have family come to see them often, and they get incredibly lonely despite all the hard work those in the home do to make them feel comfortable. Ask the proprietors of any place you wish to write first, but I think a great way to engage these people is to make them your pen-pal. Letters can be personal and powerful, and they are a great way to socialize with an elder. Also see if you can write to people in hospitals as well, especially kids! Kids with illnesses need a lot of support, and they always light up when they make a new friend- even through letters!

Make Something: Depending on your skill level and what you’re interested, you can use things you make for your Creativity portion as CAS. I have a friend who is painting rocks and selling them on Etsy to support a local children’s hospital. At a Key Club event, we made dog toys out of old T-shirts to donate to an animal shelter. Just remember: if you are selling something, you will have to explain where that money is going. I would also have at least one experience where you work with a group- a group of elementary kids in a poor neighborhood, for example- to make a craft.

Volunteer for One-Time Events: Things like community events, parades, and fun runs can all count for CAS if you decide to volunteer to help organize or work the event. Go to Volunteer Match or look up a race/ event online and click the Volunteer section, and you will find plenty of opportunities that you can schedule as you like.

Partner with an Organization: You can volunteer at hospitals (if you are 16 or older), daycares, and libraries regularly in order to meet your CAS requirement. Choose an organization you are interested in or already love and serve them in any way they may require. This is a great way to make contacts and help your community in a big way- these organizations help a lot of people every day, and you can be part of that!

There is so much more that you can do for service, but I am purposely not including many ideas because this section is really up to you guys. You need to search out causes that mean a lot to you, and be creative with how you get involved. My next post is going to be tips on all parts of CAS, like how to stay motivated with your projects, what you should be getting out of it, and a little bit of why the IB wants you to complete this.

Once again, this is not an exhaustive list of all you could do for CAS, but it is a good place to start! I hope I got some of the creative juices in your brain flowing and I’d love to hear your ideas!

Until next week,

Brainiac Blonde


CAS: Activity Inspiration

This is the second part of my CAS series (!!!!) to help inspire you guys with some ideas and a little bit of reflection over what I have done or have thought about doing for CAS. As you likely know if you are in the IB Diploma program, or if you have read my first post in this series, the ‘A’ in CAS stands for activity. As in physical activity.

I played sports when I was younger, and specifically I was in club soccer for about eight years. I still enjoy a pickup game every once in a while, but I am definitely in no shape to play competitively anymore! If you do play a sport at school, recreationally, or with a club, you should definitely include that as part of your CAS experience. There is no reason to stress yourself out about doing more physical activity if you are already physically active; just make sure to write meaningful reflections about your sport and why you continue to play it or what it means to you.

In any case, let’s get into the list!

Run/Walk: I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but running is quite possibly the most accessible physical activity to you. You can literally run anywhere- on a treadmill, around your backyard, through your neighborhood, etc. Just make sure if you are out running that you wear reflective clothing at night and always run safely! Don’t get hit by cars and always watch all around you.

Dance: I am by no means a dancer, but I’ll admit there’s a song that comes on every once in a while that really makes me want to get up and jump around. But I am a strong believer that for this section of CAS, you should do something that is comfortable and fun for you! If you love to dance, dance!

Sign up for a community recreational sport: These typically come up around the start of a season and they are a great way for you and a few of your friends to get involved with your community while being active! You can typically find these rec teams on the website for your town or neighborhood.

Train for a Fun Run: Now this one is a little different than running because it is a one-time event, so you just have the 5k, 10k, etc. However, I would strongly suggest training for these, and remember that most all of them will require you to pay a registration fee. However, they have some really crazy events to make it more interesting, like throwing colors at you (Color Run) or blowing huge bubbles around you (Bubble Run).

Go to a Trampoline Park: If you have never been, a trampoline park is basically an indoor free-for-all. There are a bunch of connected trampolines and then typically they will have a foam pit or other small obstacles. It is super fun and a really different route for physical activity!

Join a Gym: If you can afford it, it may be beneficial to you to join a gym. I personally have not done this (because money is tight and cannot motivate me enough to get out of the house) but others find going to a location where others are being physically active motivates them to partake in more physical activities or try new workouts.

Swim: If you do not have a swimming pool at your home or school, then you might be able to find a pool at a community center or gym that you can swim in. Swimming is great exercise because it is fairly low impact, so if you have bone or joint issues, it may be a good fit for you. Always consult your doctor is you have these issues though, as they should know best what is healthy for you as an individual.

Try Yoga: It has been popularized a lot in the last few years, so depending on how you feel about it, you may be interested in trying yoga. You can go to classes at your gym or maybe your community center, or you can check out a book or start following a YouTuber who has follow-along routines.

YouTube Fitness: YouTube can be a great resource for activity ideas. There are a lot of people on YouTube that are really dedicated to fitness and they make some really cool workouts frequently. Just make sure to stay safe and always think of your health before completing a video.

There’s a ton of other options, but these are just a few that I have found that I thought were interesting or would be fun to do! I also made this list keeping in mind different comfort levels with activity in public versus at home. Everyone has their own feelings about gyms or being in front of people when they work out; some do not mind, but others are self-conscious. There’s no rule with IB saying you have to do anything specific for any part of your CAS portfolio; do what you are comfortable with, and keep track of your physical activity so you can reach your goals!


CAS Ideas For the New Diploma Student

As I said in my last post, the CAS requirement for your Ib Diploma can make or break your experience in IB. For some, the requirements for CAS are a no-brainer, but for others they are an added stressor. Either way, CAS can be a fun and engaging experience for any student, and all students should always be looking at what they are already doing to see if some of their everyday activities count as CAS. After all, there are three pretty broad categories: Creativity, Activity, and Service. You could do anything really, but for today’s post, I am going to outline a few ideas for each section of CAS, as well give some anecdotes on any projects I have tried and how they turned out! This first post is going to be just Creativity ideas (because this least is super long…) but I will be posting the lists for each individual section close to each other!

The first part of CAS is Creativity, which is arguably the easiest requirement to fulfill. You can honestly do anything for this requirement, but for some people that’s the issue. With so many options, it seems hard to find one that no one else is doing. Still, the thing I think the IB is looking for in reflections on this portion of CAS is real connection with your activities, so even if you think it is ‘basic’, but you are passionate about it, you should use it for CAS!

Let’s get into some ideas:

  • Art: wow, real specific, I know. What I mean by art is painting, drawing, sketching, etc. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t seem all that creative, it is more about what you are painting/ drawing/ sketching, not the fact you are painting/ drawing/ sketching. As long as you enjoy what you are doing, art is an incredible outlet for your creativity and feelings!
  • Music: if you play an instrument in a band, at school, or just on your free time, that can definitely count for CAS. If you’ve been playing forever, maybe try to write your own music or learn to play without sheet music. Maybe you can even adapt your favorite existing song to be played on your trumpet/ accordion/ violin 🙂 The point of CAS is not to just keep doing what you are doing. For this section especially, you should look for new ways to do what you do or how you can apply skills you already have to new areas.
  • Writing: YOUR WORK FOR YOUR ENGLISH CLASS DOES NOT COUNT. CAS is more about things you do in your free time (I know, I know, what free time?) that are not graded or required by your school. That is why it is so hard for some students to complete, because they lack motivation to get started on things outside of what is required, even if it is totally their choice what to do. This project is pretty self- explanatory; writing poetry, lyrics, short stories, or hey, even your personal memoir, is applicable to the Creativity portion of CAS.
  • Journaling: IB loves reflections; they want to know what x feeling you had when you did y thing on z day. You can write a journal like a diary, or you can get a bit more artistic with it and make a Bullet Journal, which is basically a planner on steroids. Bujos are super fun and if you want to see one, all you have to do is go on Tumblr or Instagram and search for a studyblr/ studygram. They will no doubt have plenty of aesthetically pleasing pictures for you to get inspired from.
  • Cooking: It does not matter how many restaurants you live near, or how many Blue Apron copycat companies come out, cooking will always be an essential skill. If you are super into sweets and decorating, baking is the way to go. If you want to know how to make a hearty meal from scratch, ask your parents if you can take on a dinner a week. Cooking for yourself will not only fulfill some of your CAS requirements, it is a great way to feel accomplished and to better understand the process of food preparation for your own health. This is personally my favorite CAS activity I do. Every week, I make some sort of homemade snack for my Theory of Knowledge class, and everyone involved enjoys it 🙂
  • Blogging: If journaling is not really your thing, and you are interested in the tech side of things, you should definitely consider blogging. Blogs can be run from social sites like Tumblr (which is really an anti-blog, but I digress) or blogging sites like WordPress or Blogger. Personally I prefer WordPress because it has a super accessible interface and all of your content stays in one place. It’s more difficult for others to copy your work with a traditional blogging site. While your blog can be about anything, I use my site as a way to present my CAS and IB experience, which sort of kills a few birds with one stone. Plus, I enjoy the set- up of a blog as compared to paper journaling.
  • Website Creation: I actually know a few people who have done this for various reasons; I actually just made a website for my school’s National Honors Society, and it turned out really amazing. I had lots of fun with it, and I think a lot of people would be surprised at how easy it can be. You can use website building services like Wix or WordPress and customize off a template, or you can buy a domain and start from scratch. For your first time, I would start with a building site; you can start off a free template and not have to buy a domain. Their interfaces are also super easy to use, and if you want to get more into it, you can enable CSS and other coding programs so you can edit and have more control. After you get the hang of it, you can totally start from scratch, but any way you do it is a fun and rewarding experience.
  • Film: If you are in IB Film, just note that the films you make for class shouldn’t be used for CAS. Use creations you made on your own time, without a grade requirement. In my opinion, this just looks like you put more effort into your CAS experience when you go this route. Film can be anything from a thirty-second stop motion to a full length feature film (which wow, that is INSANE). Whether you turn in the final product or all the pre-production to IB, the combination of creative skills used in film is a lot, so be sure you develop storylines or ideas you really enjoy!
  • Photography: It seems like a lot of people (at least in my little corner of the world) have gotten into photography lately. I think that is amazing; I really enjoy seeing everyone’s pictures, especially when they capture moments between friends and just capture that human spirit. Or dogs, dogs are great too.
  • Sewing/ Crochet/ Knitting: While photography has been exploding recently, sewing, crocheting, and knitting all seem to be suffering in popularity, and I really don’t know why??? If you do these things, you can make yourself clothing or blankets or pillows, and I don’t know how it can get much better than that. This is a project I have been working on for CAS, and I have already made a shirt and hemmed quite a few pairs of jeans! It is the most validating thing to put something on that you designed and put together from scratch, especially when it looks great on you!
  • Makeup: I don’t care what anyone says, makeup is art. I have seen girls’ eye shadow that belongs on the ceiling of a cathedral- just gorgeous work. And it is on their face.  Makeup is really cool, and I would suggest you take lots of pictures to show off the creativity that goes into makeup. If more stage makeup or special effects are your thing, think about costume design!
  • Portfolios: Whatever you end up doing for CAS, you are going to want to be able to prove to the IB that you did it. Most of the time, that involves taking lots of pictures or sending in audio/ visual files. I think another way you can really show your creativity is by choosing an interesting outlet for your portfolio. Try making a website, an Instagram/ Twitter/ Tumblr just for your CAS experiences, or put together a scrapbook. Putting all of your CAS activities together can actually count as another CAS activity. Inception!

This is only a tiny sliver of ideas you can use for the Creativity portion of CAS! I hope you found something that sparked your interest, or maybe even inspired you to make something completely new. If so, like this post and comment! I want to know what you guys are doing for the Creativity portion of your IB CAS journey!


Brainiac Blonde

International Baccalaureate: A General Introduction

It is officially 2018, everybody. 2018.

Its almost too hard to believe this past year went by so quickly and, for many of us, torturously. For lots of you out in the world, the New Year brings in your second semester of the school year, and you are definitely not ready to go back if you are anything like me!

If you are a high school student, or nearing the end of your public education requirements around the world, you may have heard of a two-year program called International Baccalaureate, or IB for short. IB is an international organization for education that provides high school juniors and seniors (11th-12th graders) with a rigorous curriculum that is standardized through the program all over the world. The goal of IB is to teach students higher levels of science, mathematics, art, history, etc., but also to create global citizens who can understand each other in the realm of scholarship and an international workforce, regardless of cultural barriers.

For those who know of IB, the program may seem especially daunting, but it can be broken down into two different pathways depending on a student’s goals. One of these is the Certificate pathway; students do not take a full schedule of International Baccalaureate classes, but instead take 3-5. These classes groom the student for the IB exams in each course of their selection, and their passage on the exams determines whether the student will earn their certificate from the International Baccalaureate Organization.

The second pathway is the full Diploma pathway. Students (known as candidates) take six classes at the IB level, one for each group. These groups are Studies in Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and Arts ( In order to acquire their diploma, candidates must pass the tasks and exams given with each of their six classes, gaining an overall score out of seven in each course. These points are added together for a coursework score out of 42. However, the maximum points for the diploma program are 45 points. These extra three points are earned as a result of an Extended Essay.

The Extended Essay is a research paper fully conspired and conducted by the candidate, expounding upon information addressed in any one of their courses and distantly advised by an outside source (teacher, specialist in the information, eyewitness source, etc.) Like many other parts of the IB curriculum, the Extended Essay is student-led, and advisors are not to have too much hand in the creation of the paper. The paper is sent to the IB graders and given points out of three, which are added to the course score for up to 45 points. These two requirements are the only criteria included in the points for the IB Diploma, but an additional requirement is not graded, but evaluated.

The Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) portion of the IB Diploma program is one that puts many off from the Diploma pathway, while simultaneously drawing students to it. CAS is a constant requirement throughout a students years in the program, creating a portfolio of actions the student has taken to be creative, physically active, and involved in their community. Activities can fit into one category or multiple, and are reflected upon afterwards by the student. The student also must partake in a CAS project, which involves all of the categories in one activity of the student’s own idea, and must least at least a month in duration from inception to the end of the activity. (If you would like a post about CAS ideas, information, or tips, like this post or ask a specific question in the comments!)

The IB program lasts two years in total, so the subjects a student chooses will remain for the last two years of their high school education. There are some classes that cover their curriculum in one year. These classes can still count for the diploma program; so long as one class from each of the six groups is completed, and the student partakes in CAS and writes their extended essay, they are eligible for the full Diploma program.

As this is a general overview, not all information about the Diploma Program or IB is contained in this post. If you are an IB student, or thinking about becoming an IB student, like this post or comment for more content relating to IB!

For more information on the organization, you can also visit the IB website.

Happy New Year!

-Brainiac Blonde