January 16th, 2021

Piikani students learn more about STEM at Science Commons visit

By Lethbridge Herald on January 29, 2020.

Trevan Yellow Horn tapes aluminum connectors on Diamond Old Man Chief to complete a circuit for a video game controller as part of a Destination Exploration workshop for students from Piikani Nation Wednesday at the University of Lethbridge Science Commons. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Greg Bobinec
Lethbridge Herald
The University of Lethbridge Destination Exploration team invited Grades 6-9 students from the Piikani Nation to their new Science Commons Building on Wednesday for a day of scientific discovery and learning.
This is the second time the Piikani students have been to the new science facility to explore what science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities the university can offer. Last time the students were more focused on chemistry and energy, where this time they are giving their attention to electricity and circuits.
“Today we have invited the Grades 6 to 9 students from Piikani Nation to come and join us on campus, so we are doing circuit electricity and Makey Makey’s,” says Valerie Archibald, director Youth Outreach for the Faculty of Arts and Science. “What we are doing is some experiential learning, so they are understanding, learning about circuits, how that works and then they are making games and using the Makey Makey, which is a little controller to bring their keyboard to life and make the circuits real and relevant to what they are learning.”
The U of L reaching out to help educate young minds is not only a way for them to spread the knowledge of STEM learning, but to also give students a good feeling of what the campus is like and get them comfortable in a science setting.
“It allows them to experience campus, really become comfortable on campus and let them know that this is a viable option for their post-secondary learnings,” says Archibald. “This age is very important, especially with our young women that we get them engaged in STEM learning, with our men as well, because it provides a holistic learning on everything, so science, technology, engineering and math is in everything that we do. You are going to find components of science or math or engineering, so that helps bring that to life and this is a safe place for students to come in, to experience hands-on learning, try new things, ask questions, try and fail, and to move forward and keep going.”
Encouraging young women into the sciences has been an initiative for the university, as well as engaging young men on learning how to embrace girls in STEM as well. The U of L provided the community outreach and engagement space in the Science Commons building plans, so there would be a healthy environment to foster young girls’ and boys’ minds into enjoying STEM learning.
“We really want to get young girls excited, helping young men learn how to embrace girls in STEM as well,” says Archibald. “This space is designated as a community outreach and youth engagement space, so the university has provided that for us to be able to deliver our programming, to enhance STEM learning, just so students really grasp that science is fun and that it can be a part of their everyday learning.”
Destination Exploration’s science outreach space in the Science Commons is not only a way to engage youth in future learning on sciences, but also a facility for schools to access resources of learning opportunities not typically found in classrooms.
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