November 12, 2009
Jen Chae

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is more than just fun. Aside from its shows and popcorn, the fair is attracting about 24,000 students from seven school boards across Ontario for its educational displays.

With representatives from various education centres, farms and commodity groups, the fair provides hands-on experience and information on topics such as Canada’s food guide and nutrition labeling.

“We sent information packages to schools with resource sheets for teachers and a list of curriculum connections,” said Maria Werry, the education coordinator of the fair.

About 400 schools registered for field trips, from pre-schools to post-secondary institutions. About 20 to 75 student groups will visit on each of the six school days of the fair.

Notre Dame High School’s Challenge and Change in Society class were given scavenger hunt worksheets to be completed by the end of their trip at the fair. Sarah Macdonald, a grade 12 student of this class, walked station-to-station to read displays and ask questions.

“We are learning how land use changes society,” said Macdonald “I think this is a good opportunity for people from the city to experience what it would be like in the country.”

At the poultry display with different types of birds in cages, Janine Antolin sat on a chair with her sketchbook and pencil. She is a third-year student at Sheridan College in the animation program.

“We were all asked to come here to sketch animals,” Antolin said “It’s kind of like the zoo, but less expensive and indoor.”

Antolin says that this field trip was fun and a great learning experience for her.

“You observe the ways animals move naturally and how they interact with people, rather than studying from books,” she said “In animation, to make your work successful and believable, it’s best to study things in their natural state. I guess this is the closest it’s going to get.”

Sanya Bhutani, a kindergarten teacher at Region Heights Junior High, said that her students enjoyed seeing the animals at the fair.

“In class, we discussed what kind of animals you could see on the farm and the physical characteristics of the animals,” said Bhutani “It’s a wonderful experience for them because it’s not just a concept anymore. It becomes real, something they can see or smell or touch.”


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