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Central Middle School students to build interpretive displays for nature houses on Vancouver Island

Grade 8 students at Central Middle School are in the midst of fundraising to design and build new interpretive displays for nature houses on Vancouver Island.

Students kicked off fundraising efforts with an entrepreneurial market at the school’s cafeteria last Thursday, where cookies, jewelry, homemade soap and even sushi rolls were on offer.

“The idea originally came out of a math project. We wanted to get the students to understand proportional reasoning and how much things cost, how you do currency exchange, that sort of thing,” said Allison Balabuch, Grade 8 teacher at Central.

The Medieval market was the culmination of five weeks of preparation and business training facilitated by Junior Achievement of B.C., which partners with schools to provide entrepreneurial mentors to young students.

Central students chose a product, did market research and set their own prices for sales. They even created their own Viking and Greek coins for the event in the school’s metal working shop, Balabuch said.

“Some students were really surprised, when they started to look at the cost of things … how much more they’re paying for certain things with brand names. They were telling me how they spent their evening in the grocery store, and they were super excited because they got a really good deal on flour. So neat to hear a 13-year-old kid understanding that,” Balabuch said.

The proceeds from the event will go towards new materials for future projects, including an innovative partnership between the school and RLC Park Services, which manages nature houses at Rathtrevor Beach, Miracle Beach and Goldstream Park.

“The nature houses don’t have any public funding, so the displays that are there are the same that were there when I was a kid,” Balabuch said. “The kids took a trip up in the fall and met with a naturalist, so they’re designing more Science World-style displays like puzzles, that sort of thing.”

In April, the students will deliver the completed project to Rathtrevor and Miracle beaches themselves, Balabuch said.

“It helps us get out of the classroom and give back to the community,” she said.

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