Aamjiwnaang day camp fosters interest in science, technology, engineering and math

Actua, a national organization that promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for children, held a camp this week at the Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia.

First Nation near Sarnia one of six Indigenous communities where the camp was held this summer

Six-and-a-half year-old Lariah holds an Ozobot, a tiny robot. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Just because children are out of school for the summer doesn't mean they've turned off their curiosity or willingness to learn.

The proof was on full display at the Aamjiwnaang First Nation's Maawn Doosh Gumig community centre this week, where Actua, a national organization that promotes STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education, held a day camp for children aged seven to 12.

Sasha Ekomiak, an Inuit woman from Elliot Lake, was one of the instructors at this week's camp. She's studying biology at Nipissing University and plans to become a veterinarian. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The goal of the camp is to encourage Indigenous youth to go into STEM careers, explained Sasha Ekomiak, one of the instructors.

"[We want to] help them realize that STEM is all around them, not just making slime," she said.

One of the activities is called "Minerals in your Mouth", which introduces children to dentistry. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Campers engage in activities in and out of the community centre during the week-long session.

Participants learn how to make toothpaste as part of the dentistry activity. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

"We go from Ozobots, which are baby robots the kids can play with; we do an activity called Minerals in your Mouth, which is like dentistry, we do chemistry," said Ekomiak. "It's a lot of fun for the kids to engage in."

The Ozobots follow the markings drawn by the children. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)
Sequences of different colours are used to give the robots instructions. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Ten-year-old Mitchal Yellowman was one of the children inspired by the camp. When asked what activity he enjoyed the most, Yellowman was quick to point to the dentistry work. 

Ten-year-old Mitchal Yellowman enjoyed the dentistry activities. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

"You get to see what the dentists get to do," he said. "When they work on your teeth you don't get to see it."

Does Yellowman want to become a dentist when he grows up?

"Probably," he answered.


Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email