Catalyst Project

The Singapore American School Catalyst Project is a research-based personalized learning program where students are empowered to dive deep into an area of interest as teachers provide student-centric guidance, support, and flexibility. Catalyst instruction strengthens students' self-efficacy in designing, planning, and conducting self-directed projects while focusing on building competencies in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.  Ultimately, the Catalyst Program will prepare students for the future by employing their skills to develop a professional level network, find a professional mentor for their project from a respective academic field or profession, and engage in work studies, apprenticeships, internships, scientific research, etc.  In my opinion, the Singapore American School Catalyst Program represents current best practice in personalized learning where students can develop the self-efficacy to be successful in college and beyond.

Dr. Ken Yates
Associate Dean of Professional Development and Professor of Clinical Education at the USC Rossier School of Education


A catalyst project is a cultural, instructional, and course-specific student-directed self-study project where students work with a mentor in a relevant field on a school-based to work-based learning experience, aimed at a specific and strategic, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound goal. Every project is a minimum of one semester long. High school students demonstrate their skills according to SAS's desired student learning outcomes of character, collaboration, communication, creativity and innovation, critical thinking, and cultural competence, in addition to self-awareness and application.

High school students are challenged to design and create their own learning experience by pursuing an area of interest. They get to merge their passions with academic learning and develop academically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally. Teachers provide student-centered guidance, support, and extraordinary flexibility, focusing instruction on SAS’s desired student learning outcomes, development and assessment within authentic contexts such as work studies, apprenticeships, internships, and scientific research.

As students design, plan, and conduct their projects, they will be taught how to employ regional and global professional networks in and beyond Singapore, starting by working with a mentor from an academic field or profession related to their passions. Mentors give students greater meaning, purpose, and insight while they work on their projects, bringing highly relevant knowledge, skills, and experiences through authentic guidance and real-world opportunities. The scope of an SAS Catalyst Project is limited only by the student’s imagination in this unique opportunity to demonstrate their fullest potential.

Desired student learning outcomes

  • Character engages both the heart and mind, how one experiences and expresses self with others, and ultimately helps to improve the world around you.
  • Collaboration is the ability to work effectively towards a common goal in the process of shared creation, while optimizing group and individual contributions within diverse teams.
  • Communication is the ability to effectively exchange ideas and information through oral, written, digital, and creative expression on an interpersonal and global level.
  • Creativity and innovation is the ability to integrate and combine ideas while following a passion or curiosity to develop a useful and novel idea, process, or product.
  • Critical thinking is the ability to access and analyze key information to develop responses to complex problems and questions that may have no clear answer.
  • Cultural competence is to have an open mind while actively seeking to understand cultural norms and expectations of others, and leveraging this gained knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.
  • Self-awareness and its application is where students perceive their strengths, interests, needs, constraints, and aptitudes in order to apply them when completing self-directed projects.


Leadership Comes in Many Forms

Ever since my involvement with the Student Council, I wanted to learn more about leadership, while improving my own skills as students leader. My Catalyst project gave me an opportunity to plan, design, and host a leadership conference for high school students in SAS. I was able to show students that leadership comes in many forms, and empower them to lead regardless of their personality type.