This past month, the NIU Center for Economic Education and Econ Illinois virtually honored the regional and state winners of their annual economics poster contest.
“Although we missed seeing all the students, families and teachers in person, we were glad to be able to celebrate the winners online by sharing their posters on our website and Facebook page,” says Judith Dymond, Ed.D., coordinator of the NIU Center for Economic Education.
The annual contest offers a chance for students in grades 1 through 8 to learn about basic economic and financial concepts from Econ Illinois’ standards-based curriculum and then demonstrate their understanding of a concept of their choice through an original drawing. Drawings are then entered into one of five regional competitions throughout the state, and the regional winners advance to the state competition.
Tammy Batson, Ph. D., director of the NIU Center for Economic Education, says, “The poster contest is a great way to get students thinking creatively about their interactions with the economy. It is fun and builds economic and financial literacy that will impact their ability to make financial decisions in the future.”
This year’s state winners are Kaushik Saravanan (grade 3), Kerri Gaur (grade 4) and Sahana Kuttalingam (grade 5) from Fry Elementary in District 204, and Addison Guskey (grade 5) from Robert Clow Elementary in District 204.
Their posters explored the concepts of saving and spending, incentives and consumer choices, capital and natural resources, and specialization and trade.
Fry Elementary also boasted 15 regional winners and 4 state honorable mentions, and Robert Clow Elementary captured three regional top spots, as did Wredling Middle School in District 303. Springfield Ball Charter School had one regional winner.
Teacher Erin Mongelli of Fry Elementary says, “I love participating in the poster contest because some of my quieter, artistic students really get a moment to shine.”
“There are so many concepts in this contest that the students are exposed to everyday without knowing or understanding,” she continues. “The curriculum and contest help the students better understand the complex world of economics at an early age! Being able to express themselves through art is a key to truly understanding and sharing their knowledge with others.”
Helene Caliva, gifted education specialist at Clow Elementary School, says, “I look forward to the poster contest each year because it gives my students a unique opportunity to demonstrate via free-hand drawing an economic concept.”
She continues, “To me, what makes this special is that a student at the elementary school level is able to demonstrate their understanding of terms only high school and college students used to study in the past. It shows us, ‘They got it!’ Every year, I am impressed with how they can illustrate these concepts.”
Liz Dolan, social studies teacher and team leader at Wredling Middle School, says she has had her students participate in the Economics Poster Contest for the past three years.
“The Economic Concepts Poster Contest challenges students to use their imagination and creativity and weaves easily into our social studies curriculum,” she says. “I look forward to the poster contest each year because it’s important for me to infuse art into the curriculum. Art plays an important role in human development.”
She continues, “When you draw something, it evokes emotions and instills a sense of novelty, which both have been shown through brain research to enhance learning and increase the retention of information. The Economics Concept Poster Contest also provides an authentic audience for the students’ work, so I see them put more effort into their understanding of the material and their drawings.”