Sunday, 15 February 2015

Science Fair Season

Last week our district was proud to share the announcement that one of our students, Victoria Platzer, was returning from the Taiwan International Science Fair, held February 4th to 10th in Taipei, Taiwan with a gold medal earned in the Environmental Sciences category for her project, Hay Aliens.  Victoria, is the most recent winner in a long line of science far success stories for SD 60. Every year, the keen interests of our students combine with the dedicated support of many great teachers, to generate tremendous science fairs at our schools. 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 fairs display 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 Fairs is are already there. Allowing students to follow their passions into projects of their own choosing, science fairs impart a process of learning and presentation that serves students well beyond their projects. It connects them with mentor teachers who often give freely of their time both in, and out, of school hours. It can also connect students to community mentors with experience and knowledge about their projects. Such relationships often have two way benefits. Over time student connections can help secure part time or future employment and mentoring businesses see students as skilled and motivated future employees.

There is no doubt the work is being done to a high standard. As for employing technology, in science that's a given. The STEM disciplines - science technology engineering and Mathematics provide students with ample opportunities seek out and use, what ever 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. 

While its sometimes said that knowledge is its own reward, Science fairs can bring participants other prizes too. Fairs are judged events. Starting even in the younger divisions, projects earn their creators recognition both in the form of feedback from knowledgeable judges, as well as certificates and medals. At regionals supportive volunteers and sponsors ensure that many prizes are available, and, as the students progress to older divisions, scholarships and opportunities for travel to national and international competitions can be won. Our district not only has a long proud tradition of sending students to such events, but also 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. Many schools will welcome your participation as a judge or volunteer as well. This year the Regional Science Fair returns south of the Peace to Dawson Creek, scheduled to take place April 16th at Central and DCSS, and efforts towards school fairs are already underway at many district site. Combining learning with fun and possibly further rewards - sounds like a winning combination doesn't it?

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