Rethinking science class
Students in Nunavut may receive credits for going to camp

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 21/00) - Students in Nunavut may soon be able to earn credits toward their high school diplomas by going to outdoor science camps.

Last week, a group of educators, elders and science-minded professionals gathered in Iqaluit to develop science modules that take a territory-wide approach to studying wildlife and earth sciences specific to Nunavut.

"The modules are a combination of traditional cultural knowledge and western science," said Steve Parks, a high school program consultant for the Baffin District Education Council.

"For example, the dissection of a seal will include a scientific approach as well as traditional skinning methods, the names of parts in Inuktitut -- everything to know about the seal traditionally."

What the group wants to have accomplished by May is two complete science modules, a camp-safety module and a module on conducting basic scientific research.

Then they plan to bring their program to the Department of Education where they hope it will be approved for official credits in high schools across Nunavut.

"What we're developing are templates, for example on dissection, with accompanying activity books for the caribou, seal and char," said Parks.

"If they are approved by the department and students have already completed some modules, the credit would be retroactive."

The project came about after the Department of Sustainable Development, which had been fielding many inquiries about outdoor science camps, got together with educators and put together a funding proposal.

With the funding secured, Sustainable Development will help to create opportunities for youth who will consequently be qualified to be hired into the fields of science and technology.

The modules are being designed in such a way that they can be taught by people other than teachers.

Focus is also on developing the level of geological science information in the school system.

A geoscience module might include information on minerals and ores found in Nunavut, and that information will be tied to Inuit culture such as what stones are best used for making Inuksuit and why.

Outdoor camps are planned for the spring, summer and fall and the project will likely be piloted in Nunavut schools as early as this spring.