The Regina Catholic School Division is now a semifinalist in the international Follett Challenge, an education competition awarded to schools with innovative programs.
“The challenge was an opportunity for us to highlight the different work that we were already doing,” said Sherry Chase with the Regina Catholic School Division.
Two years ago, the division introduced its Tinker Tub Project, an inquiry-based learning method intended to ignite critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
“If we can develop some of those skills, I think that’s what’s going to help (students) be successful in the workforce,” Chase said. “Right now, we’re preparing them for careers that don’t even exist.”
The project consists of a series of bins, each filled with hands-on material geared toward eight different topics, such as architecture, robotics and digital storytelling.
“It’s very different to normal learning because you have total freedom on what you’re planning on doing,” Grade 8 student Emily Serblowski said.
“There really is no right answer, and we are looking for students to try the process,” said Chase. “It’s really trial and error. I think a big thing, too, is perseverance and taking a risk. I think that’s what they’re going to need down the road in the workforce.”
When looking at what to include in the bins and what topics to explore, Chase said the teacher librarians turned to the classrooms as well as Saskatchewan curriculum.
“We tried to tie things to our curriculum. In Grade 3, they have to teach about structures so what we tried to do was incorporate a themed tub that was really around construction materials,” Chase said. “Based on that, we were able to group topics into eight categories, and the Tinker Tubs were born.”
The Follett Challenge is open to all schools in Canada, the United States and Australia, with three semifinalists — one each in the elementary, middle and high school categories — chosen each year. Each semifinalist receives $30,000 in Follett products and services.
The other semifinalists include an elementary school from Valley Stream, N.Y., and a high school from Chicago, Ill.
Out of the three semifinalists, a grand prize winner will be selected by a panel of judges and will receive an additional $30,000.
The grand prize winner will be announced on April 24, 2019.