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'Real-Life' Fair


Students in one Rhode Island school got a glimpse of their future through a "Real-Life Fair," a career fair that incorporated lessons learned in the classroom. As they watched their earnings dwindle, some students found that the careers they had their eyes on might not provide the funds they would like to have in the future.

Organized in three parts, the fair experience incorporated pre-teaching activities, the fair itself, and post-teaching activities. "The pre-teaching involved preparing students to participate in the fair," Beth Brocato, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at the school, told Education World. "This teaching was distributed amongst all disciplines. For example, in social studies, students went online to do a self-survey of likes and talents. The information was used to suggest possible career choices.

"Once students had picked a realistic career based on this activity, they researched the average starting salary for this career. They found out how much post-secondary education would be needed to acquire this job. In math, students took the gross yearly salary and calculated a net (using 18 percent for taxes) and divided by 12 to calculate a monthly take-home salary. However, they were required to put 10 percent of what was left into savings. The remaining money was used to determine how much they could afford for housing (20 percent of the balance) and transportation (15 percent of the balance). In science, they used their figures to set up a checkbook ledger. They began with the net, minus their savings, as a starting balance. This was also where they were taught how to write a check and how to adjust the ledger accordingly.

The second part of the experience was the Real-Life Fair itself. The fair was set up in the gymnasium with many booths. Each booth included a display and various documents to help students make decisions about a variety of needs, such as housing, transportation, insurance, food and clothing Each booth had a calculator and a volunteer to assist students. Students wrote a check to the volunteer and adjusted their checkbook ledgers at each station.

To learn more about the value of a real-life fair and how you might set one up for students in your school, see the Education World article A 'Real-Life Fair' Shows Kids the Real Deal About Careers.