FNUniv project developed with help of Carlton students

FNUniv project developed with help of Carlton students

The First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv), with the help of students from Prince Albert High School, has introduced a new teaching tool as part of the Indigenous Knowledge and Science program.

The resource is called National Science Laboratory Video Lessons for Indigenous Youth, and it includes interviews with elders and knowledge keepers, as well as laboratory manuals and videos for high school biology, chemistry, and physics classes.

The resource includes videos of laboratory experiments conducted by students at Carlton Comprehensive High School for online posting. Printed copies are distributed to First Nation high schools across Canada to promote scholarship among Indigenous youth.

dr Arzu Sardarli, who led the project, said the goal is a bridge between indigenous and modern science – the culmination of nearly five years of collaboration between elders, knowledge keepers, university and high school students.

“What really sets this project apart is the convergence of indigenous knowledge paths with modern science and the collective effort behind the creation of these resources,” explained Sardarli. “We also very deliberately hired and trained Indigenous high school students to conduct the lab experiments.

“Our aim was to give Indigenous students and their teachers across the country the opportunity to learn from their peers and to send the message that they can successfully conduct these experiments in their home schools using relatively simple equipment.”

The project began in 2017, with work continuing during the pandemic and ending in November 2022. The first step was to seek input from First Nation high school educators across Canada to select the lab experiments that would align with their curriculum. From this, five topics were selected for each subject – biology, chemistry and physics.

A list of 45 potential experiments was sent to 164 First Nation high schools across Canada for input from educators. Based on their feedback, 15 labs were conducted and recorded

The high school students conducted the experiments with the assistance of Carlton’s science teacher Trent Armitage, the project’s educational advisor, and Dr. Sardarli through. Students from the FNUniv and the SUNTEP program at the University of Saskatchewan also provided support as research assistants.

One of them was Jana Sasakamoose, currently under the direction of Dr. Sardarli is working toward her MA in Science. She lived in Prince Albert while working on the project.

“Our goal was to create educational materials that are culturally appropriate and that Indigenous youth can relate to—materials that present a different perspective and help decolonize their learning experience,” Sasakamoose said. “Having these resources for Indigenous youth to review and study on topics they may already know about or be interested in will help students continue their education and support more Indigenous youth to enter the field of science to get in.”

The project was supported by the First Nations University of Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Because so much time has passed since the videos were recorded, no participating Carlton students were available for interview.

The lab videos and accompanying manuals are publicly available at indigenousyouthscience.ca. You can also find out more on the project’s Facebook page.

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