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Feds invest in science camps

Kassina Ryder and Emily Ridlington
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 19, 2010

NUNAVUT - A $600,000 investment from the federal government will help expand a program that delivers science camps to kids in Nunavut, Nunavut's MP told reporters on July 14.

NNSL photo/graphic

Teghan Angulalik gets her bearings on a GPS scavenger hunt during an Actua science camp in Cambridge Bay on July 12. - photo courtesy of Megan Hickey

Actua science camps take place across Canada and have been operating in Nunavut each summer for the past 11 years, president and chief executive officer Jennifer Flanagan said.

The funding, provided through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, will be delivered over the next three years, Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq said.

More than 9,000 youth in the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut will benefit from the funding, she said.

Camps are tailored to reflect the needs and culture of a particular region, Flanagan said.

"Specifically in the North, there is always a very strong traditional knowledge component in the camps," she said. "We do activities where we're able to mirror traditional knowledge with western science."

The overall goal of the camp experience is to educate youth about career opportunities available to them, she said.

"We also incorporate a lot of activities that are reflective of current science and technology developments in the North," she said.

Flanagan said the camps also help to illustrate Nunavut's need for educated professionals.

"We are planting that seed really early to say 'these careers are available for you and we need you here.'"

Megan Hickey, an Actua camp instructor, said the camps help kids learn about possible careers in their home communities.

"A large part of Actua is we really want to make the kids aware of what their communities have to offer," she said.

Hickey said many of the activities in Cambridge Bay involve the mining industry. Kids also learn how to use Global Positioning System units and how to test water.

Eleven-year-old Skye Corey said her favourite activity was learning to use a GPS.

"We did our scavenger hunt and we used a GPS and went all around town," she said. "We went around town using the programmed GPS to find the things."

Hickey said next on the list of activities was learning about local botany.

"We're hoping to have an elder or someone from community come in an talk about the medicinal properties of some of the plants in the area," she said.

This was eight-year-old Alanna Ootoova's second year at Iqaluit's camp.

"We do a lot of fun stuff," she said.

Ootoova said one of her favourite activities has been the mining activity. She said you had to find green Play-Doh (representing gold) among other colours.

"You can then go and trade it in at the bank and they will give you money," she said.

Fellow camper Ian Peter, 11, said he was also having a good time and was learning how to be responsible and how to work in a team.

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