Power To Choose Aboriginal Youth STEM Programs

Power To Choose Aboriginal Youth STEM Programs

Exploring the Science in Culture and Culture in Science


Our mission is to empower aboriginal youth with the power of choice; in their future jobs and life.  We hope to excite them about science subjects in age- and culturally- relevant ways so they stay in school and keep science subjects in their school plans.  Science subjects teach critical thinking and problem solving: skills needed to open career doors and make good choices in life. We also want them to discover the wealth of science that is embedded in Indigenous culture and knowledge through mentors, elders and community coming together to share knowledge.  


We accomplish our goals through 1 day events, a 4 day summer STEM camp, and workshops in Indigenous communities.  We always strive to connect youth with aboriginal science mentors.  We have been told how important it is for aboriginal youth to discover that places like a university are places for them, so most of our urban programming is held at the University of Calgary.  Increasingly, we are doing workshops in communities; at camps or events.  All events are hands-on, minds-on and just plain fun.  Always, we strive to provide programming, housing, and travel for aboriginal youth and their parents so there is no cost barrier to their attendance. 


Power To Choose was one of the Recruitment programs hosted by AWSN until 2018.  Visit them at www.awsn.org to learn more.  In 2007, AWSN began a program to find female, aboriginal STEM professionals to serve as mentors for aboriginal girls.  In 2009, the first Operation Minerva for Aboriginal Girls program was offered.  Based on Operation Minerva, this event was a 1 day job-shadowing event for Grade 7-9 girls from all over southern Alberta and enabled these girls to meet the aboriginal mentors in the work place.  In 2011, in partnership with Aboriginal Health at the University of Calgary, a large event hosted both boys and girls, Grades 7-12, and the whole program was subsequently renamed Power to Choose.  The idea for summer camps came from the youth themselves: travel for a one day event limits the number of things you can do.  

In Sept 2018, Power to Choose joined with long time program advisors, Deanna Burgart and Rob Cardinal, to form IndigSTEAM...not just supporting each other, but working together to grow a common program into something stronger.  In addition to Deanna and Rob, we thank our parent and teacher advisors past and present, Cheryl Cardinal, Sam Yap, Sheila Norris and the many others who came and shared their comments.