Four students from St. Mary’s Catholic School in Blind River had the opportunity recently to find out what research is all about and perform their own research at their school.
The Students As Researchers (StAR) program is designed to engage students in research that could enhance education.
Members of the team were Grade 8 students Madyson Wilson, Carmela Witty, and Cadence Taylor and Grade 7 student Christiano Bouillon. They were guided by teacher Nadia Zanatta.
The St. Mary’s students focused on the area of special education exploring the question: How can we better support students with special needs in our school? The team engaged in observations of four students with special needs and distributed surveys to additional students within the school.
The team also engaged in dialogue with teachers of the students with special needs to find out how they can be better supported and achieve the most success within the school.
“I thought it was a very educational experience and it has taught me a lot about special needs and how diverse the topic is. I recommend it for everyone,” said Madyson Wilson. While receiving training for the project at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre (OELC) in Orillia in October, the team decided that special education would be the focus and target of their research.
“I think it was all really great. The motivational speaker at the OELC taught us a lot and everyone brought it because her message was so true,” said Cadence Taylor. “There are no words to explain how proud I am of these amazing students. This was a brand new experience for all of us – including myself – and you really have to take the opportunities presented to you. The leadership demonstrated by these students is outstanding – with their observations, interviews, written conclusions, presentations and discussions – so many meaningful experiences and memories created,” said teacher, Nadia Zanatta.
In April, the team presented their research in Toronto along with 200 other students from across the province.
“It was really fun and I learned so much I never knew or ever imagined. I really recommend this experience,” said Christiano Bouillon.
“I learned a lot, more than I thought I knew and so many new things. It was great to hear other presentations because it taught me a lot,” said Carmela Witty.
The team from St. Mary’s Catholic School was the only elementary team involved in this year’s StAR program. They say they were honoured to represent their school, the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, and the community of Blind River.