Aboriginal high school students get look at University of Saskatchewan science programs

Ten First Nations and Métis students will spend this week touring science programs at the University of Saskatchewan.

Ten students from B.C. and Saskatchewan spending week on campus

Grade 11 student Dakota Nelson designing furniture out of cardboard for use in north African refugee camps. (David Shield/CBC News)

Ten First Nations and Métis students will spend this week touring science programs at the University of Saskatchewan.

The Grade 11 students from Saskatchewan and British Columbia will spend a week alongside faculty members from kinesiology, engineering and the Canadian Light Source synchrotron.

The program is designed as a way to get more First Nations students enrolled at Canadian universities.

Students in the program's engineering section have been working on designing furniture out of cardboard for people in north African refugee camps.

"It's been pretty fun," said Dakota Nelson, a student from Campbell River, B.C. "We're still in the design process. We're trying to think of new, different ideas and trying to be unique with the designs."

The program has some students thinking about science as a career.

"I've always loved building," said Lionel Ratt, a student at Saskatoon's Oskayak High School. "When they were showing us around, everyone's so smart and I'm really interested in it.

This is the first year the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation has partnered with the University of Saskatchewan with the program. The foundation has run the program for years at the University of Manitoba.

Professors working in the program are incorporating how First Nations and Métis people historically used engineering in their daily lives.

"You look at all the different designs of watercraft across Canada from First Nations, and there's lots of very distinctive designs," said engineering professor Sean Maw. "It fits into our teaching of the design process in engineering. With the students, we can illustrate key design points."

The students will be doing experiments, attending research meetings and assisting with lab work.

They will be on campus until Friday.


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