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‘I Can See the World Through a New Perspective’ – Science Experiments at AIS

At Australian International School (AIS), practical science experiments are considered to be an essential part of the school’s approach to teaching the subject. On a regular basis, students are given the opportunity to don lab coats and protective goggles, and get their hands dirty, sometimes literally. Last month, we checked in with some of AIS’s Year 11 students, Chloe, Helen, Justin and Luke, to find out what performing practical science experiments was like at AIS, and to enquire on their thoughts on studying the subject as a whole.

‘I really enjoy the practical experiences because it helps me to understand more about the theory and the chemical reactions are so cool!’ shared Chloe, who had just witnessed a “Redox” reaction experiment conducted by her teacher, Mr Alexander Knight, during her chemistry class. Fellow student, Justin, echoed Chloe’s thoughts revealing that the practical experiments ‘make it easier for us to visualize what we are learning, rather than sitting down and only learning theories.’

Speaking more broadly, for some students, such experiments were felt to be unique experiences. ‘You don’t get to do this in your normal life, this is almost a once in a life time chance’ said Helen. While Luke shared, ‘You don’t get to see that anywhere else. For example, you get to see the bonds between two elements, and if the teachers teach it on the board, it’s a different feel to actually seeing it occur before your eyes.”

To gain a teacher’s perspective on the importance of practical experiments, we spoke to Mr Knight, who shared, “I strongly believe that science is primarily a practical subject and to demonstrate true understanding and appreciation of all scientific principles, we must observe the world around us and make predictions and test these predictions. The ability to gather evidence which links the physical with the theoretical is very important in student learning and understanding new concepts, and this is something that is done daily in the AIS Science Faculty.”

When asked what the students thought about studying science as a whole, the reasons shared varied considerably. Chloe revealed that, ‘Science is very interesting as you can learn a lot of theories about things in life that you didn’t even know.’ Helen shared, ‘I mainly like science because I get to know why things are certain ways.’ Whereas Justin enjoys the subject as it supports his long-term ambitions, ‘it helps me with my career, to be an engineer.’ While for Luke, he shared, ‘When I study science, I can see the world through a new perspective. It’s like when you are watching a movie, you can see the movie, but after that you may have a look at some movie analysis. This is kind of like what science is, but for real life.’

In the teaching of science, AIS is always eager to implement practical experiments and experiences in the learning process as the school fully understands the significant benefits they have. Not only do they help engage students, they also support them in obtaining skills, understanding scientific investigation processes, and developing a broader understanding of scientific concepts.

To keep up to date with all the goings on across all subjects at AIS, follow us on Facebook here.


Saigon International Floor Hockey Invitational Tournament

At the end of last term, both AIS Cherry Blossom and Thu Thiem campuses competed in the second annual Saigon International Floor Hockey tournament, hosted by ISHCMC. Having won the tournament last year, we were eager to retain the trophy.

When we arrived at ISHCMC we were given information about the tournament. There were six teams in total and we were split into two conferences.

In my conference, first it was AIS CB A against ISHMC BLUE. It was a close match and we tied. Then we played against AIS TT A and won. In the other conference, it was AIS CB B against TT B and after that AIS CB A got a bye and went to the semi-final (which means they didn’t have to play the next round. The second team that got a bye was ISHMC BLUE).

It was time for the semi-final so we walked up to the gym again and saw who was going in the semi-final. The teams going in the semi-final were AIS CB A, AIS CB B, ISHMC WHITE and ISHMC BLUE. It was AIS CB B against TT A and they won. Then it was the final it was AIS CB A against ISHMC WHITE and we also tied! But it was the final so we had to finish with a winner so we took one player off each team every minute until there was a result. Finally, when it was 3 against 3, Kim had a free pass and she passed it to Elias and Elias scored! We settled down and the coaches gave a presentation about the second annual hockey competition. Then they announced the winners and it was AIS CB A and now you can see the trophy near Mr. Jay’s office at Cherry Blossom.

The students would like to thank Ms Hills and Mr Maher for coaching us and taking us to the tournament.


Maths Buddy Tutoring Programme: A Little Help from Our Friends

During Semester 1, Australian International School (AIS) began its own Maths Buddy Tutoring Programme on a trial basis. The programme involved IB students in Years 12 and 13 giving up one hour a week after school to tutor younger students in Maths.

Commenting on the programme, Mr David Gakowski, Maths Teacher at AIS, shared “I am pleased to say that the programme has started again in Semester 2 with 13 students receiving one-to-one tutoring. Feedback from students being tutored and their parents has been positive and all of the students who started in Semester 1 are continuing in Semester 2. Many asked to continue with the same tutor.”

For the IB Diploma students, Maths Buddies counts as a Service Activity for their Creativity, Action, and Service course. However, from the comments of some of the IB student-tutors, tutoring has become something more than simply completing a course. One student tutor shared that “Maths tutoring is not without its struggles, but it is definitely rewarding seeing the students gradually improve and have more confidence in themselves.” Another student said, “This has been a rewarding experience as I was given the opportunity to accompany a student through her journey in mathematics while putting many soft skills into practice.” Whilst one other student tutor observed that “Teaching others is an advanced method of revising. My participation in Maths Buddies allows me to revise the content of my own course.”

It is clear that the programme fosters positive relationships, as well as academic outcomes between the older and younger students at AIS. One of the student tutors summed it up by sharing, “Throughout this activity, I realized one important thing: that to be a good tutor and have effective sessions, I need to understand the maths level of those I am tutoring so I can keep on track for them. The activity is quite fun when I can show off my maths knowledge, and impress Year 12 students with my maths ability. If someone comes and asks me if I want to do it again, my answer would definitely be yes.”


Mrs Jeong SunJu

Beginning all those years ago as a cute boy with plump cheeks who finally understood the teacher’s instructions: “Hold a pencil”, to now growing up to be an 18-year-old young man, Australian International School (AIS) is where my son, GeunWoo, spent most of his life studying. Although, when he started, AIS was a new experience being a school which taught in a language he was not so familiar with, over the years, I am so proud of how he has grown and developed, and I am very grateful to the school.

For me, I don’t think schools should put their grades first. I think its important to also instil the values of integrity, respect, and teamwork. I have never asked my son to be the best, instead I feel it’s better for all of us to do our best at our own pace. Only then will we be satisfied with the results after we have achieved our own individual best. Everyone can’t be in the front seat, but there are seats for every person.

The most important thing is to acknowledge and respect all the differences in peoples’ character, personality, and quality. Therefore, it is important to have an environment where you can love yourself and do what you want to do with consideration for each other.

In that respect, I would like to express my gratitude for the nine years we have spent at AIS. I was able to wait for my son to grow up without rushing, and I’m so impressed that now he is a teenager with such a great, independent and well-balanced outlook.

We will leave AIS soon as my son is in Year 13, but I will always support AIS’s educational philosophy. I hope AIS will guide future students in the right direction as the school always has done in the past.


Behind the Curtain: Musicals at AIS

Last year, AIS was proud to hold another wonderfully produced musical production to add to its long list of successful theatrical performances. Each year, students are given the opportunity, with support and direction from AIS’s teaching staff, to experience the thrill of taking to the stage. Due to the fantastic talent AIS has, consequently, each year such students relish the chance and make the stage their own, and last year’s rendition of Mamma Mia! continued this tradition.

From actors, musicians, backstage teams and set designers, the amount of effort that goes into these performances by the students is extraordinary. Now that the lights are off, costumes put away and the audience reminiscing about a great show, we decided to check in with the students who got involved to hear their experiences.

Firstly, we asked some of the students what their roles and responsibilities were as part of the production.

Reuben John Quilon Balbon, Year 12 – Backstage Manager

During the Mamma Mia production at AIS, I was happily appointed the role of Backstage Manager. In view of the fact that I had been in other productions in the years before and had learned the ways and how it works, I felt that it was time to step out of my comfort zone and take control.

Michaela Sumague, Year 12 – Head of Set Design

I decided that I wanted to be the Head of Set Design because of my love for art and creativity. Ever since I was young I have always been creative, throughout the years I have tried many things that were related to art. I have been watching our previous school productions for a long time and I have always admired the sets which made me want to become the Head of Set Design.

Sayaka Takagi, Year 13 – Head of Choreography and Actress

My role in Mamma Mia was Tanya, one of Donna’s best friends. I was also the production’s Choreographer which meant I had to create the dance moves for each scene and teach them to the cast and chorus. Additionally, I was responsible for the flow of the stage movement including entrances and exits.  

We then enquired on what the experience was like for the students gearing up to the show and when the curtains opened on the night.

Reuben John Quilon Balbon, Year 12 – Backstage Manager

Throughout the process and working all the way up to the final performance, it was all very much enjoyable. The weekend practices that my team and I attended were long but it was never boring with the continuous entertainment that occurred on the stage. We had a lot of work to do but with practice, it was very much doable. Leading my team for the Mamma Mia! production has showed me more about what I’m capable of as a person and that in this production, even though the team I put together weren’t the best of friends, it all worked out to be more like a family in the end.

Michaela Sumague, Year 12 – Head of Set Design

My experience of being part of the Mamma Mia! production is an experience that I will never forget. Ever since I started making the sets I have enjoyed every single bit from my team to the cast and to the teachers who directed the musical. Every so often some of the cast would take a sneak peek of the set and would give it an abundance of compliments which would always make my day better. Though there were times when being part of Mamma Mia! was stressful, things like deadlines and things not going the way you wanted it to go, in the end, those issues were all worth it after seeing the outcome of the production.

Sayaka Takagi, Year 13 – Head of Choreography and Actress

I am really thankful for this school production because each year I make new friends with students of different nationalities, genders, and age groups. We spent most of Semester 1 together rehearsing and we all enjoyed it. After the show was over, we all missed each other. We still talk and hang out together at break and lunch time.  

When we started rehearsing, the pandemic hit, so we only had a short time for preparation. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to put it all together, but in the end our show was a huge success. We received so much positive feedback from the audience. I think it was one of the best school productions ever.  

Mamma Mia! is just one of many productions and performances AIS holds every year. To learn more about all things performing arts at AIS, check out and follow our dedicated Facebook group on AIS Performing Arts:


IB Spotlight: Creative, Activity, Service (CAS)

Adding something completely original to the IB Diploma’s Creative, Activity, Service (CAS) is at the heart of the course as a whole. CAS looks to strengthen and extend students’ personal and interpersonal learning in three distinct areas: Creativity, to explore ideas to lead to an original product or performance; Activity, to perform physical exertion and contribute to a healthy lifestyle; and Service, to support the community in response to an authentic need.

We spoke to Gia Bao Tran, a Year 13 student at AIS, to find out more about CAS, and what he thought of the course. He explained more about the three areas of CAS, shared his highlights, and revealed how the course changed his outlook.

45/45, 3 bonus points, getting through Theory of Knowledge, basking in the glory of finishing an extended essay… Diploma: FAILED. WHAT?

CAS – Creativity, Activity, Service. Ah that’s the missing component. Three letters that seem so daunting, but are actually the biggest present the IB will give you.

The beauty of CAS? Freedom. You can do anything that you like. You like playing the trombone? Practise, perform and put it down as creativity. Love playing football? Join a team, play consistently and put it down as activity. Enjoy the company of children? Volunteer at an orphanage and count it as a service.

It is the perfect opportunity to explore different areas of interest that have been swept under the carpet as the commitment to education takes priority. It encourages you to go out, socialise, and enjoy your life when the temptation of bottling up in your room to do extra ‘revision’ is overwhelming.

Personally, I have come out of the comfort of my own shell a lot in the last year, saying ‘yes’ to things I never would have before. I have met brilliant people, experienced memorable moments, but most importantly I have become a better version of myself, and improved the community that I am a part of.

The experience that stood out the most with me was the GIN Saigon Conference 2020. It was an event for 250+ international school students from all around the city, to gather and discuss twenty of the most imminent global issues. We had to figure out all the logistics, deal with the accounting, and plan the event down to the minute. Through this process I was able to obtain many real-life skills that will be incredibly helpful in any sort of planning or management job in the future.

CAS is genuinely one of the most enjoyable components of the IB, and one I definitely recommend students to make the most use out of!

Gia Bao Tran

Year 13 Student at AIS

To find out more about studying the IB Diploma’s CAS course at AIS, or about the IB Diploma in general, check out AIS’s complete comprehensive curriculum guide, which includes IB Programme FAQs, 10 reasons why you should study IB, and an IB Diploma Handbook:


Leading the Way: AIS’s Student Representative Council

At Australian International School (AIS), one of our key focuses is to ensure that our students are fully prepared for life beyond the classroom. As part of this approach, wherever possible we look to provide opportunities and roles that can build our student’s confidence, test their leadership skills, and expose them to something completely new. One example of this is AIS’s Student Representative Council (SRC), and this week we decided to explore the council to learn more about what it does and learn why students are keen to join.

What is AIS’s SRC all about?

From running charity fundraisers, preparing teacher’s day celebrations to organising school dances, AIS’s SRC play a fundamental role in the managing of student activities at AIS throughout the academic year.

The Spring Dance

As an overview, the council is made up of 34 members in total, five of whom work as executives who look to lead and oversee the running of the entire council, managing all the activities, campaigns and events. The remaining 29 work as representatives for each of the school’s homeroom classes. Their role consists of speaking on behalf of their fellow students, helping with organising activities on the ground level, and communicating information.

To find out from the students what it is like to be part of the SRC and learn why they took on such a key role, we spoke to two of the council’s executives, Vice President Amy (Sian) Lee, Year 12, and Junior Executive, Zara Evans, Year 9, to find out more.

Describe your role as an SRC executive.

‘Being the vice president of the SRC gives me lots of responsibilities and leadership opportunities to lead all students in AIS to a bright future, and a chance to try my best to help them to achieve their dreams. Therefore, this motivates me to organise lots of beneficial activities and competitions for them. For instance, starting last August, I started planning to create a science and economic competition for AIS students in which they had to choose one environmental issue in Vietnam and show their own inventions to solve the problem. I believed that such an event would help our students to develop their scientific, economical, and debate skills with other international school students, and have been very grateful and honoured to organise and plan all of these as an SRC executive. Recently, the competition was held at AIS on the 12th of December, 2020 and it was great to see so many people there!’

Amy Lee, Year 12

‘I am the junior executive of the SRC, which means I am in charge of years 7 through 10. I ran for the position near the end of the last academic year, going against two other competitors and won by a student vote. So far, our school has had a haunted house for Halloween, a party and dress up for Moon Festival, a variety of fun games and dress ups for Teacher Day, and small events like Secret Santa, bake sales and dress-ups for Christmas, with many more activities to come. Such events like these are organised by the whole SRC team, as it affects the whole school. My favourite event so far would have to be the Halloween haunted house, that all the SRCs decorated and participated in.’

Zara Evans, Year 9

Why did you decide to become an SRC executive?

‘I was a very quiet and introverted girl when I was in Year 9, but after I saw lots of outgoing and active SRC executives, it motivated me a lot to change my personality and try to speak up for myself. In addition, a number of AIS school teachers encouraged me to develop my public speaking and knowledge skills, so I decided to be an SRC executive in my senior school life. It also gave me a chance to support younger students who need my help in sharing their opinions, provide more chances to get students involved in lots of creative activities, as well as involve them in lots of competitions at AIS, which will be beneficial for their future. I am very honoured and grateful to help them as a vice president.’

Amy Lee, Year 12

‘My favourite thing about being a junior executive is being able to host and run charity fundraisers and events. It’s amazing to see so many students getting involved in many of the activities, regardless of the situation. I get to work with and cooperate with my peers and teachers in creating the best experiences for everyone. I enjoy the leadership responsibilities, being the person who students can ask questions to and talk to. I can only grow from this experience of being a junior executive, as I am so young. I think it’s a great place to start.’

Zara Evans, Year 9

The Haunted House

The SRC is just one of a number of extra-curricular activities and groups which AIS provides to encourage students to try new pursuits, take on responsibility and build their confidence. To learn more about AIS’s general approach to instilling leadership skills and how important the school believes they are for its students, please watch this video:


IB Spotlight: English B – Language Acquisition

Continuing to explore IB Diploma students’ studying experiences, this week we put the IB Diploma subject: English B under the IB Spotlight. This course is designed to provide students with the necessary skills and intercultural understanding to enable them to communicate successfully in an environment where English is spoken.

To learn more about what the subject is really like to study, we spoke to Giang Tran, a Year 12 student at AIS who shared her thoughts. She spoke about her memorable accomplishments, gave advice on how to master the course, and how the subject supports her future ambitions.

Whilst studying English B, I have been starting my second-language acquisition journey. In this course, I can develop the ability to communicate in the English language through the study of language, themes, and texts, and in doing so, I also can develop conceptual understandings of how language works. At AIS, my typical day of studying English starts mostly in the morning. After being refreshed by a night of sleep, I start my class from 8am to 9:10am every Wednesday, Thursday, and 10am to 11:20am every Friday. In class, every lesson is taught by Ms Hutting.

For students, we usually improve our language skills by doing exercises in a textbook or from collecting information from a reliable news source. In addition to that, we can study remotely with each other via VersoApp, which is provided by AIS. This app is very helpful in maintaining relationships between students and teachers, engaging students with relevant material, motivating them to learn, checking on their wellbeing, and providing personalized feedback. Thanks to the knowledge that Ms Hutting provides us in class, I am now confident enough to use English fluently much like a native speaker. I am also gaining a lot of knowledge in and outside of the school. It makes me feel proud of myself.

One of the most memorable accomplishments is that I have been nominated by Ms Hutting for a school writing project, and therefore secured a place in the blog project. It is similar to writing a blog for viewers who are new to international schools.

Learning English B for the IB Diploma is quite different from IGCSE due to two significant reasons. First of all, the IB Diploma program is much harder than IGCSE because the scope is wider. Secondly, the amount of coursework is heavier and more time-consuming. To master the IB course, I strongly recommend that reading the textbook carefully will help IB learners a lot, because everything they need to achieve a high score exam is in there. Furthermore, students should try to look up lots of news from the New York Times, BBC, CNN, etc. By reading and collecting worldwide events from those reliable sources, it will help to pass the course’s oral exam, which is a 15-minute speaking test in Year 13.

My future ambitions are to become a diplomat, a member of the UN, or even part of UNICEF, who can change the world, influence people to do the right things, protect children, and save the environment. As part of these roles, it is important to communicate with foreign governments, and understand more about other nation’s history and economics. In order to do that, I have to practise my English skills as well as conduct interesting conversations with foreigners. By talking with them, we can discuss what is happening on Earth right now and its effects such as climate change.

Giang Tran

Year 12 Student at AIS

To find out more about studying IB English B – Language Acquisition at AIS, or about the IB Diploma in general, check out AIS’s complete comprehensive curriculum guide, which includes IB Programme FAQs, 10 reasons why you should study IB, and an IB Diploma Handbook:


Students From AIS Have Been Celebrating Their Success Stories In The IB Diploma

Year 13 students created some amazing displays recently to showcase the work they have done as part of the IB Core.

The Core is made up of Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS). Students must pass all of these to be awarded the IB Diploma.

AIS held its Core Celebration on Friday 6 November in its new IB Centre. The day started with Year 12 students listening to Year 13 prefects about their experiences in the Core. In the afternoon, the IB Centre was transformed with displays of work from TOK, CAS and the EE.

Extended Essays ranged from research into Shakespeare’s plays to understanding radar systems in Mathematics. In TOK, students gave presentations on a range of real-life situations, while for CAS they carried out numerous projects, including some to feed the homeless in Saigon and help flood-hit parts of the country.

Several Year 11 students also dropped by to learn more about the IB Diploma they will start studying next year, and parents visited to learn more about their children’s work.

IB Diploma Coordinator Mr Mark Beales said: “The IB Core is a great opportunity for our oldest students to step back and recognise the incredible work they have accomplished since starting IB. It’s also a good chance for other students to understand what’s needed to succeed at IB.”

IB is the world’s top pre-university course. AIS recently celebrated its joint best-ever IB results, which has resulted in students gaining offers at several world-class universities. For more, visit

Mark Beales – IBDP Coordinator


Mrs Hang Nguyen

‘Hello! I am Viet Nghia’s mother and my son is a Year 5 student at Australian International School (AIS).

My child transferred from a Vietnamese local school, so when starting at AIS, his level of English wasn’t so high. Initially, my family was very worried and afraid that he would not be able to keep up with his fellow classmates. What has been amazing though is that despite the fact my son joined the school not so long ago, now he can speak English much more fluently, no longer feeling shy and is instead much more confident.

Every day, my son comes home from school and shares to the entire family how happy he was with his day. From mentioning that he enjoyed his school lunch, to having fun dressing up for Halloween. Fridays are his favourite as he has a PE class which he loves very much, and he loves his teacher, Mr Shepherd because he is very fun in the classroom, teaching lessons through playing activities.

For me, I really appreciate Ms Susan and Ms Thuong who support me whenever I do not understand my son’s lessons, and I want to thank them a lot for their support. Our family also would like to send our thanks to Ms Diep from the admissions team, who always proactively helps and supports us whenever our family is not clear about anything. Not forgetting AIS’s bus team who have a lovely bus nanny, Ms Nhi, and a great driver.’