Six Indigenous girls from across the Northwest Territories found out last week that science and math aren’t as dry and boring as they may have thought.
De Beers Canada sponsored 10 seats for Indigenous girls in Grade 7 and 8 to attend the annual University of Waterloo IMPACT camp last week. The two-day camp, which aims to expose Indigenous girls to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects in preparation for post-secondary school, presents hands-on demonstrations and experiments that try to attract students to related fields.
Of the NWT sponsored seats, students came from Yellowknife, Hay River, Behchoko, and Lutsel K’e and joined three others the mining company also sponsored from Iqaluit, Pangnirtung and Fort Albany, Ont. Another nine Indigenous girls in a similar age group from areas closer to the campus also attended.
News/North caught up with two of the NWT science campers late last week as they were enjoying ice cream made from liquid nitrogen following one science experiment demonstration.
Ashlyn Angiers, a 13-year-old Hay River Metis student heading into Grade 9 at Diamond Jenness Secondary School said she first became aware of the camp in the spring as her mother, who works at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre, came across forms to apply.
She became intrigued and decided to give signing up a shot.
“If I am being totally honest, I didn’t think we would get chosen to get in but we decided that we would sign up. It was a few weeks later that my mom got an email that we were chosen to go to this camp in Waterloo,” Angiers said laughing. “I totally didn’t think that would happen.”
For Keira Grandjambe, a 12-year-old student heading into Grade 7 at Lutsel K’e Dene School, she said she and her older sister Hailey were both looking for summer camp ideas.
“I wanted to go to science camp because I wanted to learn about science and see what I could do about getting jobs in the future,” she said, adding it is her first time in Ontario.
“I thought I was lucky that I got to go because it was all the way to Ontario and it is a fun.
“It is big and nice and clean and the people are really nice.”
Both girls said they were only starting to think about their futures, but expect they will have to consider it more seriously in high school. Admittedly, neither one said they were intending to pursue STEM subjects at this point in their student careers, but being more engaged in the subject material will help them get to where they want to be in life.
“I love the idea of law school, actually,” said Angiers. “I am a lot more of an English student than math. But the idea of going to university and being in a dorm excites me.”
For Grandjambe, she also has other plans at this point.
“I want to become an animator but I have to do science to graduate,” she said.
The camp’s subject content and hands-on approach to learning was a lot more compelling than she expected, however. She mentioned being able to make ice cream out of liquid nitrogen as well as making space suits and marshmallows as science experimentation.
“I sort of expected the camp to be to learn a whole bunch of serious things of science but we all had fun and did experiments,” she said.