Share this page 

Professional Practice

ILLUSTRATION: Paul Reid/Anna Goodson

Illustration of people shopping and sitting at desks.

Last year I started running a program in my Grade 6/7 class to help teach financial responsibilities. At the beginning of the year, students apply for a "job" in class and receive a salary (pretend money) for their work. They can also earn "income" for participating in school teams and clubs, and for academic achievement. From their earnings, they are responsible for paying rent for their "property" (desk and chair) and paying fines for such things as forgetting to stack chairs at the end of the day or returning forms late. We also created scenarios so students could experience real-world issues such as grocery and restaurant expenses, financing a car and purchasing a house.

Each month concludes with a class auction. Once students have paid their bills, they can use their leftover income to bid on items such as school supplies, iTunes cards and no-homework passes.

Monique Ough, OCT Junior/intermediate teacher, St. John the Baptist Elementary School, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

The Next Step in Youth Science

By Stefan Dubowski

Young scientists in school often get direct access to the tools and teachings they need to develop experiments and learn the scientific method. But they don't get access to one crucial aspect of science: peer-reviewed publication of their work. The Canadian Science Fair Journal (CSFJ, is here to change that. Developed by researchers working with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, this new periodical presents reports by scientists aged six to 18 across a range of topics including bioengineering, behavioural science and environmental sustainability.

Anyone in elementary through high school can submit a report for publication. The journal has expert editors/mentors on hand to work with submitters to develop the articles, providing constructive feedback on writing abstracts, formatting references, interpreting results and other requirements. Once the articles are up to snuff style-wise, they're published on the CSFJ website and in the print version, which comes out each spring, summer and fall.

The print version works as a classroom tool, notes Rhiannon Ng, the CSFJ's co-founder and managing editor. Teachers are encouraged to share it with their students, and for 2020, the journal now includes a discussion section with pointers you can use to prompt dialogues among your students. You'll also find a lesson plan on peer reviewing on the journal's website, which you can use to introduce the concept.

Ng figures now is the time for the CSFJ. It not only gives students a taste of an important part of the scientific process — publication — but it also gives them a new tool to help them appreciate objectivity and evidence-based decisions. "Particularly in a world in which fake news and pseudo-science are becoming more common in mainstream media outlets, we hope this authentic youth-led research can serve as an age-accessible tool to promote those principles of science literacy early on," she says.