Living Heritage: Our values, beliefs and ways of life shape our sense of identity, belonging and place, connecting past, present and future.

About the Virtual Heritage Fair Process

Is the Virtual Heritage Fair replacing the in-person events forever?
No, this is not Heritage Saskatchewan’s intention as of November 2020.
Heritage Saskatchewan intends to resume the in-person Heritage Fairs once it is safe to do so and in cooperation with participating school divisions. This will likely occur in 2022.

Is the Virtual Heritage Fair just a replacement for the Heritage Fairs due to COVID-19?
No, Heritage Saskatchewan intends to continue offering a Virtual Heritage Fair. The Virtual Heritage Fair emphasises slightly different skills than the in-person events and it also allows for more students to participate. 

Is the Virtual Heritage Fair replacing the Regional Fairs, or is it replacing the Provincial Heritage Fair? Will students advance?
The Virtual Heritage Fair is province-wide and only one level, so no one advances beyond it. (Any national contests are separate contests offered by Canada’s History Society.)

Can students participate in both the Virtual Heritage Fair and the in-person Heritage Fairs (once resumed)?
Yes, students can participate in both the online and in-person streams (once both the Regional Fairs and the Provincial Fair have resumed).

Can students participate in the Virtual Heritage Fair even if they were not selected to advance to the Regional Fairs (when resumed)?
Yes, any student in Saskatchewan in Grades 4 through 8 can submit their Heritage Fair project to the Virtual Heritage Fair. Teachers can choose to submit projects from every student in their class if students are willing to participate.

Can students submit projects to the Virtual Heritage Fair independently?

Do teachers still have to register for the Virtual Heritage Fair?
Yes. Teachers have the option of registering their classes for both the online and in-person streams (once resumed). (Registration for 2021 will be for the Virtual Heritage Fair.) For the Virtual Heritage Fair, there are no limits to how many students from a class or school can participate. Therefore, a teacher registering a class of 25 students is declaring that they will have “up to roughly 25” students from their class submit virtual projects. This will help Heritage Saskatchewan plan for online hosting, judging, etc.

If I [as a teacher] register my class for the Virtual Heritage Fair, do all of my students have to submit their projects?
No, not all students in a registered class have to submit their projects to the Virtual Heritage Fair.

If a student wants to participate independently, do they have to register in advance?
Students can register at the same time that they submit their project, but they (or their teacher/parent/guardian) are encouraged to register in advance so that Heritage Saskatchewan will be on the lookout for their project.

If a student is registered to participate (either as part of a class or independently) and then moves to a different school, can they still participate in the Virtual Heritage Fair?
Yes, students who change schools during the school year can still participate in the Virtual Heritage Fair. They can identify with either school or both schools.

If a student is registered to participate (either as part of a class or independently) and then moves out of province, can they still participate in the Virtual Heritage Fair?
Students who move out of province during the school year can still participate in the Virtual Heritage Fair for that same school year only. For example, a student who moves in February 2021 can compete in the 2021 Virtual Heritage Fair, but would not be eligible to participate in the 2022 Virtual Heritage Fair unless they moved back to Saskatchewan.

Can students participate in partners?
Yes, students can work together in partners. For the Virtual Heritage Fair, students can partner with students from another class or even another school.

Can students participate in groups?
Yes, students can be in groups of more than two students for the Virtual Heritage Fair. Teachers who want to submit a project done by the whole class together can arrange this with Heritage Saskatchewan.

Can students outside of the eligible grades participate?
Variable. Students in grade 9 or in grades lower than grade 4 can participate if they are partnered with a student in an eligible grade (grades 4 through 8). For solo projects, see below.

Can a Grade 3 student submit a project alone?
Yes, students in Grade 3 can submit projects that they do by themselves, especially if they are part of a Grade 3/4 split class. They will be judged alongside the Grade 4 students. The focus of their participation will be mainly about getting the experience of doing a project, which will serve them well if they are able to participate in later years.

Can a Grade 9 student submit a project alone?
While a Grade 9 student can submit a project by themselves, they are not eligible to be judged. Their project would be showcased only. For schools where Grade 9 students are mixed with younger students, teachers are encouraged to pair them up so that at least one of the students is in an eligible grade.

What about students in younger grades?
Projects by students younger than Grade 3 would be showcased only, unless they are part of a partnership or small group with students in eligible grades (such as older siblings).

What about students in high school beyond Grade 9?
Projects by students in high school beyond Grade 9 will not be accepted for the Virtual Heritage Fair.

How do split-grade projects get evaluated?
Split-grade projects are evaluated based on the grade of the oldest student regardless of the age gap between them, unless there is a specific reason to evaluate them at a lower level (which would be determined on a case-by-case basis). However, if the oldest student is in Grade 9, the project is evaluated at the Grade 8 level regardless of the grade of the other student.

How would a split-grade small-group project be evaluated?
A split-grade small-group project would still be evaluated based on the grade of the oldest student. Because this is a new feature unique to the Virtual Heritage Fair, this is subject to change or to be different on a case-by-case basis if necessary.

What language can a Virtual Heritage Fair project be in?
Projects for the Virtual Heritage Fair will be accepted in English, French, or any Indigenous language of Canada. Projects can also be bilingual or multi-lingual and include other languages.

Do all projects have to be videos?
No, there are five categories. Only those in the Video Presentation category must include a video.

Do all projects have to include photos?
No, projects in the Written Presentation category do not need to include photos.

Do all projects from the same class/school have to be of the same type and in the same category?
No, students can submit different types of projects from their classmates. The teacher can set what kind of projects their class will do, but they cannot control what a student decides to submit.

How does judging work at the Virtual Heritage Fair?
Each project is evaluated by three* judges. Judges work with what is presented to them and cannot ask questions directly (this is the biggest difference between the virtual and in-person Heritage Fairs). Judges are looking for the students’ skills is three equally-weighted areas: “Creativity/Presentation”; “Research/Historical Thinking”; and “Communication”.
*The scores from all judges are averaged for a final score.

How do judges compare a project that is a video and PowerPoint to a project that is just a written essay?
As of 2021, judges will compare projects that are presented in the same/similar medium to each other, but they will not be comparing projects to each other that are presented in different mediums.

How are awards/prizes determined?
Separate judges look for projects that qualify for specific awards/prizes and give recommendations (rather than evaluate based on the rubric as outlined above). A small committee from Heritage Saskatchewan makes a final selection, considering the students’ scores. Difference in presentation media (i.e. written vs. video) is taken into account.

Aren’t some of the prizes or awards somewhat subjective?
Yes. For 2021 and beyond, the prizes and awards will be better defined than they were in 2020.

How does Heritage Saskatchewan determine which awards/prizes will be offered?
Heritage Saskatchewan bases the awards/prizes on the entries themselves (i.e. including a “Best Animal Display” category in 2020 once we realised how many projects we had that included animals) and on the categories already in existence for the Regional/Provincial Fairs.

How will the awards be different once the Regional Fairs and Provincial Fair resume?
This has yet to be determined as of November 2020. The 2020 Virtual Heritage Fair included elements from the Regional Fairs (the Topical & Methodological Awards) and the Provincial Fair (the Top Ten & the six bursary awards). This will change as the in-person events resume and the Virtual Heritage Fair becomes its own contest, but will be mostly unchanged for 2021.
One change for 2021 will be that instead of having a Top Ten, there will be a Top Three (or Top Five, depending on number of entries) per category.

How many times can a student compete in the Heritage Fairs?
They can compete as many times as they want until they have completed Grade 8.

Can award-winners participate in subsequent years?
Absolutely! There are no limits to how many Heritage Fair awards a student can earn.

Why are students allowed to attend multiple Heritage Fairs? Shouldn’t they let someone else have a turn?
For students who participate in Heritage Fairs for multiple years, each year is an opportunity to explore a new topic, learn/hone skills, and share another story. Students should be rewarded for their work and their passion for heritage. They also should have the opportunity to improve their score from previous years (or try to earn another award, which is not easy).

Why are students allowed to participate in both the Virtual Heritage Fair and the in-person Heritage Fairs?
Because they will be two separate contests. Students can use different skills for the Virtual Heritage Fair than for the in-person Heritage Fairs.

Could a student theoretically win both contests?

Why is there more variety to the types of acceptable projects for the Virtual Heritage Fair?
The variety of acceptable projects gives teachers more flexibility in how they want to incorporate Heritage Fairs into their classrooms and it gives students more opportunities to showcase their skills. Dividing the projects into different categories will ensure that video projects are compared to video projects, written projects are compared to written projects, etc.

Why is there more flexibility around participation in the Virtual Heritage Fair?
The flexibility reflects how we want the program to be more inclusive and reflect community needs. We want Heritage Fairs to fit into the lesson, not have the lesson fit into Heritage Fairs. From a practical perspective, we have more space virtually to accommodate small groups and grades on the edge of eligibility, whereas the in-person events are limited by room capacity, food budget, time constraints, etc.

What if the Virtual Fair has 4000* projects? Would there be the possibility of creating multiple levels?
Like the in-person Heritage Fairs, the Virtual Heritage Fair is subject to annual evaluation. There will only be one level in 2021.
*4000 is based on the average number of total students participating at the school level in recent years.

How much work is required from participating teachers for the Virtual Fair?
Teachers need to provide support for their students: introduce them to the topics, guide them in their research, etc. Teachers also need to register online with Heritage Saskatchewan and then register their students (or assist their students to register). They need to assist their students with submitting their projects before the deadline. It is ultimately up to the teacher how much they want to be involved. Teachers can also promote the Virtual Heritage Fair in their school/community.

If a teacher does not register their whole class, can their students still participate?
Yes, as long as the students register and submit their projects by the deadline. Teachers are still encouraged to register their classes so that Heritage Saskatchewan can estimate the number of students participating.

Is there any appeal process if a student was (or seemed to be) judged unfairly?
No - all decisions made at each Heritage Fair, including the Virtual Heritage Fair, are final. Heritage Saskatchewan must trust the judges’ evaluations, especially as the judges do so remotely. Every effort is made to ensure a fair and equitable judging process.
Teachers, parents, or judges can discuss an issue of unfairness (actual or perceived) with Heritage Saskatchewan to make recommendations for future years. If necessary, an official apology to the student will be issued.

Is it equitable if a large proportion of award winners are from the same school?
Award winners are determined with great care and attention. Representation of participating schools is one of the many factors taken into consideration, but students’ scores and the content of students’ presentations (as well as the criteria for each award) are given more weight. The last thing anyone wants is for a student to feel that they won their award due to tokenism rather than merit.
There is no intention on the part of anyone to favour or discriminate against particular schools.

What counts as a conflict of interest for a judge?
Particularly for projects in French or in Indigenous languages, the pool of available judges may be limited. Having met a child previously, or being acquainted with their parents, is not automatically a conflict of interest.
Judges cannot evaluate projects by their own children/grandchildren, own students, nieces/nephews, or children of close friends*. Judges also cannot evaluate projects by students from the school that they teach at or by students who are classmates/friends of their children. Judges are required to declare their conflicts of interest. Judges can also request to be re-assigned if they were unaware of a conflict of interest when they initially volunteered.
*Who counts as a close friend rather than an acquaintance is up to the judge’s discretion.  

What does not count as a conflict of interest for a judge?
Particularly for projects in French or in Indigenous languages, the pool of available judges may be limited. Having met a child previously, or being acquainted with their parents, is not automatically a conflict of interest.
Judges can evaluate projects by students that they have formerly taught if the students no longer attend the same school that the judges are currently teaching at and at least two years have passed since they taught them. Judges can evaluate projects by students who attend a school that their child(ren) formerly attended. Judges can evaluate projects by students from their community.

What about the fact that French-language projects can be under-represented in the award winners? Would this be different for the Virtual Heritage Fair?
Every effort is made to ensure a fair and equitable judging process. Because communication is one of the elements that students are being evaluated on, a student’s command of the language of their project remains a factor in how they are judged. (Judges are reminded to take into account that students may be presenting in their second or third language.) The proportion of French-language projects compared to the number of projects overall is also a factor in how many win awards. In 2020, there were 51 French-language projects submitted and 15 of them won awards.

What measures (if any) will Heritage Saskatchewan take to protect the privacy of the students online?
No student’s personal contact information will be displayed. Only their name, grade, school, and the community in which their school is located will be included with their project. Heritage Saskatchewan endeavours to protect student privacy, but our organisation is not responsible if student-produced content includes personal identifying information.

Why does Heritage Saskatchewan include students’ first and last names?
Heritage Saskatchewan believes that students should be given full credit for their work, especially if they win a prize. Likewise, including the school name gives credit to the school. This is the type of non-confidential information generally included in news articles about students’ achievements.

Is it mandatory to include a student’s full name, grade, etc.? What if there are additional concerns?
Teachers and parents can arrange with Heritage Saskatchewan to accommodate individual students who have additional privacy concerns. Additional measures may include using a pseudonym, withholding the community and school name, keeping the grade level confidential (except to the judges), ensuring that no photos of the student are publically viewable, or keeping the project off the public platform entirely. These measures would be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Is there a National Heritage Fair?
Unfortunately, no, there is no longer a National Heritage Fair. Canada’s History Society runs national contests associated with Heritage Fairs that are separate from Saskatchewan’s Heritage Fairs program.

Miscellaneous Question(s)

Last year, some of the projects had a photo of an owl on a bicycle. What was that about?
Not every project in 2020 included a still photograph of the student or project. For 2021, all students must submit a still photograph, even if it is of the title page of their report. This will avoid having a placeholder photo and serve as a visual record of their participation.
(The owl is Sunny the Saw-whet Owl, the Heritage Fairs mascot.)


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