Young summer campers in Iqaluit had an unexpected visit from a group of scientists last week — and a unique opportunity to experiment with robots, chemical reactions and music mixing software.
A team from Actua — a charity dedicated to getting kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math — was in Iqaluit last week and delivered a few additional workshops for kids at the Sprouts day camp.
"My favourite part was the Ozobots and making music today," says nine-year-old Candice Vincent-Wolf.
The Ozobots are mini robots used to teach kids about coding and programming. They're designed to follow lines drawn with special markers on a map. The different colours signal the robot how and where to move.
The robots are one of the many interactive tools that Actua offers kids in their workshops. The group's aim is to help young people with limited access to science and technology tools get exposure to technology.
This Actua team is travelling more than 8,000 kilometres this summer to visit seven Indigenous communities, including Cape Dorset, Kimmirut, and Igloolik.
The team was initially en route to Hall Beach but their visit was cancelled because of the hamlet's concern over the whooping cough outbreak. Instead, they decided to partner with Iqaluit's Sprouts and offer a few workshops for the kids at the day camp.
The participants had a chance to create chemical reactions, mix music on laptops and learn about the links between traditional knowledge and new science.
"I think everybody loves it," says Rachel Mandel, a University of Toronto engineering student who works with Actua.
"We had some kids last week that when we told them we were leaving, wanted to come with us so they could do camp a second week over here. It's a great reaction, and people... are very supportive."
For the past 16 years Actua has been partnering with Nunavut Arctic College with support from the Nunavut Research Institute to deliver various spring school workshops and summer camps.
Each year the nonprofit delivers workshops for schools as well as hosting summer camps for youth in 35 to 40 communities throughout the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut.