Tseada Gebeyhu, a Grade 5 student at East Three Elementary School, participated in the 2018 regional learning fair with a project about her home country, Ethiopia.
Gebeyhu, 10, said she chose to do her project on Ethiopia because she thinks it is important to share your culture with others.
“At first, I was going to do a science project, but then I chose Ethiopia because it’s my culture and I want other people to know it,” Gebeyhu said. “I think it’s important for other people to know about my culture because people don’t have to stick to knowing their own cultures, you also need to learn how other people do things differently from you.”
This is the first year students had the choice to participate in a combined learning fair where they weren’t restricted to projects about science or heritage.
Kenzie MacDonald, co-organizer of this year’s fair, said they decided to try something new this year to boost participation numbers.
“This is the first time we’ve done a combined learning fair. We’ve usually done a heritage fair, and the next year we’d do a science fair, but we realized attendance numbers were dropping for both fairs,” MacDonald said. “With them being every two years, it’s very hard to keep a kid motivated and interested in a topic for a long period of time. In an attempt to boost numbers, we decided to do a combined fair, and it seemed to have worked.”
MacDonald said approximately 45 projects were presented at the fair by students from Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Tuktoyaktuk, and Tsiigehtchic.
“I think it’s important … to keep kids engaged in learning all the time, even outside of school,” MacDonald said. “This gives them the opportunity, now that it’s a combined fair, to find something they’re interested in and pursue it. It doesn’t have to be science- or arts- or culture-based necessarily. With the combined learning fair, it opens up the possibilities for documentaries, comedy acts, skits. It’s open to interpretation based on what the kids decide they’re going to do.”
Adam Wright, math and science consultant for the Beaufort Delta Education Council and co-organizer of the fair, agreed with MacDonald.
“I’ve always felt that forcing students to do a science fair may have the exact opposite effect that we’re trying to do. We’re trying to create passion for learning,” Wright said. “They can do a project on something that they’re passionate about … this gives them an opportunity and a platform for them to find something that they’re really interested in and learn it at a deeper level, be the expert, and showcase their knowledge.”
Winners of the fair have the opportunity to travel to Fort Good Hope for the territorial heritage fair and Ottawa for the Canada-wide science fair.
Isabel Deslauriers from Let’s Talk Science was also at the learning fair facilitating a virtual reality (VR) booth.
Students had the opportunity to try on VR goggles and learn a little bit about different science-related careers, which Deslauriers said is important because students often think science careers are only for people in laboratories doing experiments with beakers and test tubes.
“We have some VR 360-degree videos and we took six different careers that are related to science, some of them are what you would think of as traditional science and some of them are a little bit less traditional,” Deslauriers said. “There’s a helicopter pilot, there’s a mining video, there’s a forestry video, and so on. They put on the gear and they get to experience a few minutes of what it would be like to be working in that science career.”