The New Science Fair: Sharing Social Entrepreneurship with the Community

On Monday, April 11, Grade 9 students had the opportunity to share their year-long social entrepreneurship projects with parents, community leaders and project partners at the Foundation Year Projects Showcase at the Centre for Social Innovation Annex.

In contrast to the old model of lecture-based learning, a progressive vision of education is emerging that aims to prepare students to thrive and lead in a changing world. More and more educators recognize the effectiveness of project-based and personalized learning that supports the development of the whole person. This kind of education is not only about creating a collaborative and hands-on learning environment, but also about making real impacts in the communities in which students learn.
 
With these principles in mind, the Foundation Year Projects challenge Grade 9 RSGC students to address social and environmental issues in their community through collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. In partnership with SoJo (an organization that prepares and trains young social entrepreneurs), students learned about the principles of social entrepreneurship and applied them to the creation of innovative solutions that addressed an issue of their choosing. Students were given class time from November till the beginning of April to collaborate on campus, work in RSGC’s Design Engineering Studio, and connect with community leaders, while receiving support and advice from teachers and alumni. The resulting student-led initiatives ranged from a children’s book on racism, to an online educational resource hub for at-risk youth, to a program to recycle used milk bags into a waterproof sleeping mat for the homeless, to a video focused on increasing youth engagement in politics, and more. (See below for a complete list of projects.)
 
The showcase offered an opportunity for the boys to share their work with their parents, teachers, alumni mentors and members of the community. In his opening remarks, Headmaster Stephen Beatty commented that the Foundation Year Projects Showcase was “the new science fair,” an exhibition of projects that are hands-on, creative and focused on addressing social challenges.
 
Guests enjoyed light refreshments and a chance to speak with the boys about their projects and the thought process that had gone into each one. Han Dong, MPP for Trinity-Spadina, stopped by to meet with each group to learn about what they had accomplished. MPP Dong shared his thoughts in a Member’s Statement at Queen’s Park the following day, remarking that he was impressed with the boys’ innovative spirit and commitment to positively impacting their communities. Click here to view his statement online.
 
List of Foundation Year Projects
Collecting used running shoes to donate to a refugee cause, which will be used as an entry fee for a basketball tournament on campus.
 
F.R.E.E. (Fighting Racism Everywhere, Everyday): A student-led gathering place for discussions on issues of race and racism.
 
SWATS (SweaterHats): Repurposing gently used sweaters to make into hats for the homeless.
 
Repurposing plastic bags by weaving them into sleeping mats for the homeless, including creating a loom to do the weaving.
 
URDestiny: Creating a website that aggregates links to online games that simulate the experience of homelessness. Proceeds will be donated to charities linked to youth homelessness. http://luketao.wix.com/urdestiny
 
Organizing food trucks to come on campus to sell food to students, a portion of the proceeds of which went to Covenant House. First food truck was Beaver Tails, which visited campus on Wednesday, April 6.
 
Improving health and fitness for youth who don’t have access to sports programs. Hosting youth aged 5-17 from Christie Refugee Welcome Centre to play games and sports every Thursday for the month of April. http://blaurin.wix.com/sports
 
Investigating options to improve access to clean water in First Nations communities in Northern Canada. http://htwooco.wix.com/h2oco
 
Creating a website highlighting issues around animal cruelty, using social media to raise awareness of these issues and using videos to inform the public on “How to Care for Animals.” http://stopanimalabusetoday.myfreesites.net
 
Writing and illustrating a children’s book about racism (entitled Leo and the Rhino) in order to educate young people about racial issues.
 
Organizing a suit drive with the proceeds donated to charity, working in conjunction with Moore’s suit drive.
 
Creating a website focused on water conservation, including information on how to save water (25 Tips on How to Conserve Water in the Household).
 
Organizing a used hockey equipment drive, with the proceeds being donated to a local charity focused on youth athletics and fitness programs.
 
SAPE (Sports. Academics. Play. Enjoy): Organizing a club to help RSGC Junior School students relieve stress by participating in activities such as soccer, board games, colouring, and listening to music.
 
Creating short videos to educate youth about municipal, provincial and federal political issues.
 
Creating a website for at-risk students in the GTA listing all the courses available to them and encouraging continued education. http://clutchprep.webs.com
 
Organizing and hosting an organized activity day where RSGC Grade 3 students played soccer and handball and learned about healthy food options and nutrition.
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