Sudbury news: Students on Manitoulin Island get 'out of this world … – CTV News Northern Ontario

Sudbury news: Students on Manitoulin Island get 'out of this world … – CTV News Northern Ontario

Updated: 8 days, 17 hours, 9 minutes, 3 seconds ago

It was a moving scene inside Mr. Mara’s science class at Wiikwemkoong High School as the members of the school’s robotics team got to talk shop with real-life NASA engineer Aaron Yazzie on Thursday.
Yazzie delivered a presentation on his background, growing up on the Navajo Nation, and what led to his work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. One of his passions has been outreach to other Indigenous students, hoping to inspire them about what is possible.
“The area I grew up was in Arizona, that was in the southwest United States,” Yazzie began, while students hung on his every word.
His upbringing is a similar one to many who live on Manitoulin Island, these students are also Indigenous and don’t live exactly next to NASA but robotics and math are a passion.
“It actually shows them that there are Indigenous people out there who have gone and achieved big things, especially in the area of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math),” said interim principal Cameryn Beaudry.
Yazzie walked them through his life, to his work on the Mars Rover project, to questions afterwards from the students.
“How does being Navajo affect and shape your approach to engineering?” asked one student.
“That’s a great question, I think being creative and being ingenius was the thing that really pushed forward into engineering,” said Yazzie in his reply.
“It wasn’t something that so much that ‘oh you’re good at math and science – that’s why you should be an engineer. It was more like you’re artistic, you’re creative and that’s why you’ll make a good engineer and I think we native peoples are very creative. Our art forms are beautiful, we can live off the land … that stuff makes us great engineers.”aaron yazzie presenation 1 6240520 1674322111176NASA engineer Aaron Yazzie talks with high school students on Manitoulin Island on Jan. 18/23. (Ian Campbell/CTV News Northern Ontario)The presentation was made possible through a grant from the Ministry of Education and organized by Science North.
“We get this opportunity to leave the walls of the science centre, which is an incredible place – but then to bring experiences to people and students across the north is yeah… just – no words can describe how it makes me feel at the end of the day,” said Matthew Graveline, an outreach staff scientist with the centre.
Students hung on his every word, something keenly listening to what the robots do and some maybe wondering how they can apply that to their own robotic work on the island.
“You all see normal, non-Indigenous people doing these cool things, when you see Indigenous doing something big, it’s like I can do that too and brings like hope and good ideas,” said grade nine student Baybee Bryant.
“Let’s say a hockey player – it’s like he wanted to be an NHL player. You can do that! It makes me want to believe in myself, in that I can do anything,” said Pahquis Trudeau, another student.wiikwemkoong high school s robotics team 1 6240521 1674322340462Wiikwemkoong High School’s robotics team received a presentation from NASA engineer Aaron Yazzie on his career and heritage. (Ian Campbell/CTV News Northern Ontario)The presentation ended with students getting a chance to show off their robots to Yazzie before having to head home due to a winter storm.
Plans are also in the works for the class to liaise with him further down the road.
“It actually shows them that there are Indigenous people who have gone out and achieved big things,” said science teacher Chris Mara.
“Especially in the area of STEM.”
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