Ethics Committee - Schools


At the school level, it is important that at least one person, usually the teacher, be aware of the rules for the Ethical rules for the participation of humans and the use of animals. This person is then an Ethics Committee of one for that school, and is responsible for teaching the students how to go about science fair projects that involve these issues.

For projects involving humans, Youth Science Canada recognizes two kinds of projects, Low Risk and Significant Risk.

Low Risk Projects are those which involve conditions where the risks of harm are not greater or more likely than those encountered in everyday life. Most projects at Elementary Schools will be of this kind. Teachers must read and then follow Youth Science Canada Policy 4.1.1 Participation of Humans in Research - Low Risk.

All other Projects are defined as Significant Risk Projects. Teachers must read and then follow Youth Science Canada Policy 4.1.2 Participation of Humans in Research - Significant Risk.

The student is required to write up:

  1. the Research Proposal.
  2. the survey, if there is one,
  3. the Informed Consent - Letter of Information
  4. the Informed Consent - permission form

These are then to be vetted by the Ethics Committee, which again is usually the teacher in the school.

This is a good opportunity, for the student to learn and appreciate the steps that must be taken when doing projects that involve humans. The quality and level of the items (1) to (4) above can be simple and straightforward for the younger grades, increasing in level and quality with the grade level.

If the project is complex, and/or is a strong candidate for display at the Regional Science Fair, then the teacher should ask the student to become familar with the appropriate rules: