On Thursday, November 16, Kingsway Park Public School Learning Academy students will be working with community partners on an “InSTEM” project to design a birch bark canoe. The Kingsway Academy students have been learning about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). And by learning to apply the principles of Engineering, Indigenous Science and Western Science to the birch bark canoe, they are now participating in an InSTEM project.
“The birch bark canoe is one of the most recognizable forms of transportation around the world and has proven to be ideal for travelling the many streams, rivers and lakes of North America,” says Darren Lentz, Principal of Kingsway Park Public School. “This reliable and sturdy mode of transportation has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years – a frame of wooden ribs covered with the lightweight bark of birch trees.”
In partnership with Lakehead University, Fort William Historical Park and Actua, the Kingsway Academy students have been learning about both the Western and Indigenous science, engineering and design of the birch cark canoe. Alongside the scientific perspective of canoe design, the students have been working in a learning environment that is grounded in Indigenous science, worldviews, values, teachings, and knowledge. Actua is a Canadian charitable organization that delivers science, engineering and technology educational programs to young people in Canada.
Students participating in the program are designing of their own canoes, through a variety of hands-on experiences, over a six-week period. Throughout the process, the Kingsway Academy students have been brainstorming, testing and re-working a canoe design to get to a final design prototype.
“At the end of the process the students will take their final prototype and using new technology, they will be able to make a 3D print of their canoe,” says Lentz.