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Compass with the International School Manila Middle School Service Day

After months of planning it was finally the day – Thursday October 21st – SERVICE DAY for International School Manila’s fifth through eighth grade students! It was a pretty exciting day because it was the first time we had students ages 10-14 using the Sustainability Compass tool in conjunction with Make A Difference Course’s newly released interactive sustainability adventure.

In September, MAD Courses launched an innovative educational video adventure in the same vein as the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, but using technology from WireWax, which enables students to “visit” an indigenous tribe in the Philippines – making choices throughout about what questions to ask, what activities to see, and setting their own pace.

Just as we would want students going on a physical journey to make meaningful observations in our partner community, we wanted these International School Manila (ISM) Middle School students to be similarly equipped for this virtual visit. Using the Sustainability Compass tool was a crucial part of their travel “toolkit”. To begin the day they watched instructional videos about systems thinking and then about the Sustainability Compass tool itself. Then, before going on the virtual experience, the students practised by creating a “Home Compass”, mapping the physical things they observed (IE: a potted plant, waste bin, shower, fridge, painting, etc.) as well as non-physical parts of their home life (IE: relationships with family, household chores they have to do, work their parents do, how they amuse themselves, etc.). After placing each item in one – or more- sectors of the Compass, they also practised observing relationships between the items and drew arrows between the related items.

Then, after going on the adventure with their specified travel companion:

each student created a similar Compass chart for the Aeta Tribe’s community, placing the
observed elements (scaffolded by a customised Field Guide they took on the trip!) in the sectors for Nature, Economy, Society and Wellbeing.

Let’s look at one example: Ate Husna, a local mother and entrepreneur, creates products from bamboo, which she sells to visitors and businesses.

The students would generally begin by placing the activity of selling the straws in Economy, the most obvious connection. However, they soon realized that it was not only a livelihood for Ate Husna: the products themselves come from the forest (Nature), while her profits from this business allowed her to buy a carabao- a type of buffalo- which affected the entire community (Society) and in addition, she can now afford medicine and food that is nutritious (Wellbeing). With just this very small example, it is clear that the students began to see the interconnectedness of the many parts of the small tribal community in Yangil.

Lively discussion due to a deeper understanding of relationships and interconnectedness was another huge benefit of using the Sustainability Compass tool.

If you’re interested in learning more about the MAD Courses Interactive Adventure, feel free to email [email protected].

For more information about how to teach with the Compass Education tools, see

Suji DeHart

Suji DeHart

Suji DeHart is a certified educator with over 20 years of experience in Malaysia, China, the USA and Mexico. Her focus is on increasing Global Competence in students from K to 12th grade, helping them build the knowledge, understanding and skills, but moreover the desire to help make the world a better place for all. She currently works with Orenda Learning, an impact driven social enterprise that guides young people, educators and community in best practice service. She co-founded Make A Difference Courses (MAD Courses: to bring Global Citizenship and Sustainability Education to students and teachers worldwide.

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