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Aboriginal Access to Engineering, Actua and Microsoft Canada Visit Tsi Snaihne School


Michelle Kennedy, AAE Instructor, delivers a robotics workshop to grade four students at Tsi Snaihne School.

Submitted by Kaitlynn (Katie) Carroll, Manager of Communications and Special Projects, Actua

Aboriginal Access to Engineering from Queen's University (AAE) is a regular visitor to all three Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Board of Education schools. Last week, AAE visited Tsi Snaihne School to deliver coding and robotics workshops alongside representatives from Actua and Microsoft Canada.

Leading those workshops was AAE's Community Engagement Coordinator, Michelle Kennedy, a member of the Oneida of the Thames First Nation. Michelle is a qualified teacher, and in her visits to Akwesasne, delivers coding and digital literacy workshops to students in grades K-6. The initiative is part of a long-term strategy to increase the number of Indigenous engineers in Canada through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs for elementary and high school students.

AAE from Queen's University works in partnership with First Nation schools to deliver content that is culturally and locally relevant and which highlights and celebrates traditional knowledge as a pillar in science and innovation. AAE's return community engagement project began in 2016, with the first year focusing on hands-on design in science. This school year, at the request of principals, there has been more of an emphasis on coding as a means to apply math concepts.

"Literacy levels are in a good place at our school. Last year 80% of our students were reading at or above grade level", said Lynda Brown, Tsi Snaihne School Principal. Lynda and her staff are now focusing on math initiatives to support STEM subjects. "First Nation students are under-represented in scientific fields of study such as Mathematics, Science, and Computer Science. Math initiatives have been a focus this year with new math programming, coaching, and the partnership with AAE. Michelle has done a wonderful job, along with our classroom teachers, instilling an interest in STEM subjects. We want our students to have the opportunity to enter careers in the STEM fields," said Lynda Brown.

Queen's Aboriginal Access to Engineering is a network member of Actua, Canada's leading youth STEM outreach network. Together, Actua's network of 36 member programs at universities and colleges reach 35,000 Indigenous youth in 200 communities across the country.

The work is supported in part by Microsoft Canada, who joined Queen's and Actua at Tsi Snaihne School to film footage for its upcoming Do More Together storytelling campaign. The video will showcase the impact and efforts of Actua and its network members' delivery of digital skills and STEM workshops with Indigenous youth in Canada, and will feature the bright young minds and future innovators of Tsi Snaihne School.


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