Saturday, 16 November 2013

Science Fair: Making Learning Rewarding!

This week our district Science Fair committee held a remarkable event. This combination of dedicated parents, teachers, staff and parents, along with many returning student participants held a launch party for this year's Science Fair. The committee oversees the district's largest academic extra curricular event this side of grad. And if your recollection of science fairs is cardboard back boards fronted with papier mache volcanoes spewing baking soda and vinegar, its time to look again. Science Fairs have done more than keep up with the times. Today's science fair is 21st Century Learning at its best.

The new BC Ed plan talks about moving education to a place where every student enjoys personalized learning,  powered by technology with flexibility and choice, quality teaching displaying high standards of learning. Science Fair is truly already there. Aside from allowing students to follow their curiosity into a project of their own choosing, science fair imparts a process of learning and presentation that serves students well beyond their projects. It connects them with teachers so committed that, even in an age where extra curriculars have sometimes become a political issue, they remain passionately involved, giving freely of their time both in, and out, of school hours. It can also connect students to mentors with experience and knowledge about their projects. The mentoring relationship can become a two way benefit. Over time Students may use their connections to help secure part time or future employment. Mentoring businesses see the connections as a potential path to attracting valuable, knowledgeable, hard working, skilled future employees.

Looking at the rigor students bring to their projects, there is no doubt the work is being done to a high standard. As for employing technology, in science that's a given. Students seek out and use, what ever tech they need to form their hypotheses, carryout their research and experiments, record and present their data, and determine where their efforts can take them next.

It is said that knowledge is its own reward. That may be true, but Science fair can also bring participants prizes as well. After all, fairs are judged events. Starting even in the younger divisions, projects earn their creators recognition not only in the form of feedback from knowledgeable judges, but also medals and certificates. Cash prizes are also available, and, as the students progress to older divisions, scholarships and opportunities for travel to national and international competitions are available for those who earn them. Our district has a long and proud tradition of not only sending students to such events, but of having them win major honors up to and including university scholarships worth thousands of dollars.

When your child asks about going into this year's science fair, its definitely worth following up. Chances are there's a teacher at your school involved with the Science Fair committee. If you're not sure a call to the district office can quickly connect you to someone only too happy to help, or check out the Science Fair web page at nbcrsf.wordpress.com. The district science fair occurs in the spring, but its never too early to get started! Combining learning with fun and possibly further rewards - sounds like a winning combination worth looking into doesn't it? Looking into things further is what science and 21st century learning are really all about!

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