STEAM Education Centre and Antler River elementary school from the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation have joined forces to inspire digital literacy among elementary communities through the newly created iSTEAM program. Thanks to generous donations from Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) and the Ontario Trillium Foundation the multi-week year long program has the Centre provide weekly sessions where the students get to build on S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art design ,Math) based skills and combine its relevance with indigenous storytelling and teachings and curriculum ties.
In the first session students were taught about the concept of the how and the why of the sky and that hidden in plain sight is all the wonder of the world. The idea of exploring that we are in this amazing, invisible fluid all day that sustains us and we ignore it but it is what we breathe and what allows all flying things to have a chance to fly, float and soar in this graceful interaction with gravity and energy. The first challenge when discussing flight dynamics was to create an object out of paper that would stay afloat in a built air tube. This could be a paper airplane modified in various ways or a helicopter using a pattern provided to the students. They could also test to see how throwing the paper flight objects by hand would vary in glide time and distance so that they can alter their design as needed.
The overarching theme of the how and why of the sky was further set to engage the students through the celebration of the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation's story of the Thunderbird. The students were also provided with bird flyer kits that were designed at the STEAM Centre on Corel Draw software and moi3D. After repeated flight tests of the various designs these bird flyer kits were then laser cut out of foam core and added metal washers to aid in the balancing. Students were encouraged to assemble and use art design to make their bird unique .Many took them home to complete and reported working on the designs with their family members. "The school partnership with STEAM is "bringing families together. Empowering students and engaging adults." -Jeff Clark, Antler River Elementary School teacher