There’s an old proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. This summer’s Uu-a-thluk Science Camps brought that message home as children ages 8-12, elders, and youth participated in science- and knowledge-based learning in Nuu-chah-nulth communities, with several individuals and companies pledging to send one child or more to science camps.
“The best way to learn and succeed in science is to have ongoing support from people in the community,” said Celine Kehoe-Doehring, a youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) instructor for Science Venture and one of this year’s camp instructors. “We help to spark an interest in science among kids, yet the community plays a significant role in nurturing this interest.”
Since our partnership began in 2005, Uu-a-thluk and the University of Victoria’s Science Venture program have been familiarizing children grades 4-6 with scientific concepts, especially those related to aquatic resources. Science Venture is a network member organization of Actua, a national charity that readies youth to be innovators and leaders by engaging them in accessible STEM experiences that build crucial skills and self-confidence.
Uu-a-thluk works to incorporate teachings from elders and other community members who hold a wealth of knowledge about managing our resources. One knowledge holder at this year’s science camps was Gisele Martin from Tla-o-qui-aht. She led a forest walk through Schooner Cove Trail while teaching lessons about hišuk?iš c?awaak (Everything is one; everything is connected.) and ?iisaak (respect) related to interactions with our environment and marine resources.
A favourite activity at the Tseshaht and Hupacasath science camps was the salmon dissection led by Coleton Gomez-Leishman. The Uu-a-thluk intern dissected a sockeye, demonstrating parts of the fish while also teaching the Nuu-chah-nulth words for each part. Campers were especially interested in learning about the “slime” of the salmon that allows it to slide through the water and escape from predators, and the “swim bladder” that helps a salmon control its buoyancy. It’s this kind of curiosity that Science Venture instructors and Uu-a-thluk staff hope to foster. “I told them they should go in to Biology 11 and 12 if they like dissecting things,” said Gomez-Leishman. “I want to get across the idea that science is cool.”
Stephanie Robertson, a youth STEM instructor for Science Venture and one of this year’s camp instructors noted that some activities engaged the kids physically, making it fun for them to learn about science. “When they exercise their muscle memory they retain more of what is taught,” said Robertson. She noted that for some activities they paired younger kids with older ones to further engage them in learning. “If a younger child sees an older one involved in what’s being taught then he or she thinks, ‘maybe I should learn it.’” The Species ID activity—a big hit with the campers—is another example of younger kids learning from the older ones.
“Many of the children already knew about the seaweed we were identifying and happily passed on their knowledge to the younger campers,” said Michelle Colyn, capacity building coordinator for Uu-a-thluk. “It was great to see in action the leadership skills these kids already have.”
Uu-a-thluk Science Camps wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing financial and volunteer support from sponsors. With the generosity of our donors, Uu-a-thluk raises between $4,000 and $8,000 each year. As a result, over 1,000 children have participated in Uu-a-thluk Science Camp in the past 11 years.
Uu-a-thluk would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous support and participation in the 2016 science camps:
Cermaq Canada Ltd.
Native Fishing Association
Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Development Corporation
Pacific Boat Brokers Inc.
Pacific Halibut Management Association
Pacific Sea Cucumber Harvesters Association
Underwater Harvesters Association