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Kivalliq teachers say no difference in science challenges

The initial round of Actua's Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Challenge began making its way to schools across the region this past month. Actua inherited the program from the Kivalliq Science Educators Community (KSEC).

Senior high science/math teacher Gregg Durrant, from left, helps Grade 9 students Angelina Siusangnark and Cheryl Ignerdjuk make their wind-power project during the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) Challenge at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat on Nov. 29. photo courtesy of Julia MacPherson

Teacher Cindy Kim was a key player in the STEM Challenge held at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat this year having helped sort the materials, organize the classes, run the activities in the school's gym and record all the results.

Kim said she was not actually involved with the SET Challenge last year, but did take part in the one at Victor Sammurtok School in Chesterfield Inlet two years ago.

She said she found Actua's STEM Challenge to be pretty good overall.

“The kids really enjoyed it, they all watched the videos that were provided to the teachers and they had a good time showing-off whatever structure they made in the gym,” said Kim.

“Because our school's bigger, we also had the Grade 1 to Grade 4 students come into the gym to show their structures and their parasails, as well as the kindergarten students, who needed time in the gym to build their structure before showing them off with the Grade 5 and Grade 6 students.”

Kim said Actua replacing the KSEC's SET Challenge was not talked about at Tuugaalik.

She said the only thing anyone seemed frustrated with, was only being given one blow dryer to share among six-or-seven classes.

“Once everyone realized we couldn't all have the blow dryer at the same time, they were able to work with the materials in the classroom and some one of them used books to create wind to see if they could knock down their structures,” Kim said.

“I got no sense at all of anyone comparing the STEM Challenge to the SET Challenge and, to be honest, I don't know if our school even knows the difference between (them) except for, maybe, one teacher.

“Matt (Thompson) asked me to clear that it was Actua running it but, I think, sometimes things get misinterpreted or misunderstood, or people are so set in their old ways that they don't even notice it.”

Kim said when it came to how much teachers have to do to run each project, there was no difference at all between the SET and STEM challenges.

She said even though she wasn't in the gym to actually see the SET Challenge last year, she did help distribute the materials and it seemed very similar to what Actua did this year.

“Each class is allotted a certain amount of time to create their structure, glider, or whatever they need to build for the challenge, and then then they have to enter the challenge in the gym in front of everyone,” she said.

“The kids had a good time, and the teachers had a good time creating all the different things with their students.

“So, all these challenges, whether it's SET or STEM, or KSEC or Actua, it's fun for everyone.”