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Promoting science to young Canadians

NSERC funds engineering outreach to Aboriginal students, Science Rendezvous event. 

Two Queen’s University projects will promote engineering and mathematics to young Canadians – including Aboriginal students – with support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

“Both of these programs deserve applause for their work fostering an interest in and instilling a passion for engineering and mathematics in youth,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Congratulations to both the Aboriginal Access to Engineering program and Dr. Colgan on their continued efforts and leadership to champion STEM education.”

Melanie Howard, Director of Aboriginal Access to Engineering (AAE).

Aboriginal Access to Engineering (AAE) within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has received $228,900 over three years from the NSERC PromoScience program. The outreach initiatives of AAE aim to get more Aboriginal youth excited about science and mathematics and encourage them to consider engineering as a potential career path.

“We are thrilled that NSERC has recognized the opportunities and potential that Aboriginal Access to Engineering opens up for Indigenous youth,” says AAE Director Melanie Howard (Artsci’95, Ed’98). “We look forward to engaging more frequently with Indigenous youth through culturally relevant and exciting STEM enrichment experiences, and inspiring youth in Indigenous communities to see themselves as future engineers.”

One of only three undergraduate support programs for Aboriginal engineering students in Canada, AAE is also the only program with a corresponding K-12 outreach component. AAE sets up interactive displays at various community events throughout the summer, engaging youth through storytelling, games and activities to help them learn about the importance of engineering within an Indigenous context.

The program also works extensively with teachers and schools in First Nations to inspire linkages between culture and technology in the elementary science curriculum. Aboriginal youth also have opportunities to visit Queen’s each year and learn more about engineering through in-person meetings.

AAE will use the funding from PromoScience to extend its long-term, reciprocal relationships with proximate Indigenous communities and to strengthen the quality of its outreach and educational efforts.

"I thought, ‘that sounds like so much fun!’"

- Lynda Colgan (Education) on the Mathematics Midway

Lynda Colgan (Education) received PromoScience program funding from NSERC to host the Mathematics Midway at Science Rendezvous Kingston.

Lynda Colgan (Education) is spearheading the other Queen’s project that received NSERC funding. With the $20,000 PromoScience grant, Dr. Colgan is bringing the Mathematics Midway to this year’s Science Rendezvous Kingston. The attraction features mathematics-related puzzles and games.

“Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to place a student for a practicum at the Museum of Mathematics in New York City,” Dr. Colgan says. “As part of a street festival in Manhattan, they ran a Math Midway, which was an opportunity to play games with math and experience the more artistic, whimsical side of math. I thought, ‘that sounds like so much fun!’”

The highlight of the Mathematics Midway at Science Rendezvous Kingston will be the square-wheeled tricycles. Participants will have the opportunity to ride these seemingly impossible vehicles along a specially designed roadway while learning about the math behind what makes them work.

NSERC's PromoScience Program offers financial support for organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of science and engineering (including mathematics and technology). For more information on the PromoScience program, please visit the website.