A Trent University program that empowers youth to recognize the importance of both Indigenous and Western knowledge when approaching scientific exploration has received federal funding of $120,000 over three years.
Trent Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge and Science (TRACKS), an educational program based out of Trent’s Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences program, received the funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) PromoScience program.
The funding is part of today’s PromoScience announcement by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, minister of Science and Sport, who announced $9 million in funding for 96 recipients across the country.
"TRACKS is extremely pleased to have been awarded NSERC funding through the PromoScience Program once again,” said Dr. Chris Furgal, associate professor of Indigenous Environmental Studies at Trent. “In the past, this funding has helped ensure TRACKS' accessibility to all students and expand its reach to connect with more and more Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth through its environmental programming each year. This new award will help continue the positive and exciting direction TRACKS is headed in."
In supplemental funding, TRACKS received an additional $5,000 this year to conduct activities under its Science Odyssey program. With this funding, from May 5 to 11, TRACKS will be offering various workshops and drop-in events to explore the science of Giizhigoong (the Sky World) inside of the Royal Ontario Museum’s Travelling Planetarium. This inflatable dome, with a digital projector, recreates constellations in the sky and offers interpretations of constellations according to Anishinaabe tradition, among other Indigenous cultures.
During this time, TRACKS will also host five full days of school workshops at the University available to teachers and students in the five school boards surrounding Peterborough. Workshops will include time inside the planetarium learning about Ojibwe constellations and stories of the sky and also outside the dome learning about the Waawaate (Northern Lights). As with all TRACKS programming, the workshop will be hands-on and will include both Indigenous and Western scientific explanations.
In the evenings and weekends, the planetarium dome will be available for drop-in learning sessions. Certain evenings will be targeted toward specific audiences, but others will be open to all. The targeted evenings will be for Trent University students, staff and faculty; another for Peterborough and area families; and another for Indigenous youth.
“We are so excited to be offering this unique experience for teachers, students, parents and families as part of Science Odyssey Week,” said Madison Laurin, operations coordinator at TRACKS, who runs the program with Kelly King and Kristin Muskratt. “It will bring science ‘to the streets’ and open the door to an experience that is otherwise not available and a perspective on the night sky which incorporates both Indigenous and Western sciences.”
TRACKS is committed to inspiring Indigenous youth as they explore the world from multiple perspectives, see their own cultures and knowledge systems represented in the eSTEM fields and empower them to enact changes in their own communities.
The PromoScience Program delivered through NSERC supports hands-on learning experiences for young Canadians and teachers.
About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
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