Creating Space for Place-based Learning and Indigenous Astronomy Knowledges in Canadian K-12 Classrooms
10:30 - 10:45
Co-author: Julie Bolduc-Duval
Within Indigenous communities, learning is holistic, land-conscious and communal, but these values are rarely reflected in Canadian education systems. Instead, Western/Eurocentric astronomies tend to dominate space in the classroom. Opportunities for hands-on immersive learning in remote communities are also unfortunately quite rare due to underfunding and unequal access to educational opportunities and resources. In this talk, I will be describing two recent initiatives aimed at helping address the learning/opportunity gap that exists between Indigenous and settler communities and at creating space for Indigenous Astronomy Knowledge (IAK) in Canadian classrooms. I will present “Beyond the Stars”, a series of place-based, remote observing projects (taking place from Feb-May 2023) for Grade 9-12 students from four schools located within Canadian Indigenous communities. I will describe how we have developed an innovative target selection approach which allows 1) students to engage in authentic scientific investigation while remaining immersed in local heritages, cultures, and landscapes of their region, and 2) teachers to position this cultural foundation as motivation for studying the Universe. I will also report on our experiences in performing remotely-supervised telescope observations in low-connectivity environments and share insights for similar future projects. Also discussed will be “Astrodigenous”, a newly developed online portal which provides teachers and educators with search-like access to a wealth of Indigenous sky-knowledge resources. I will provide a tour of the core features of our website, demonstrate the functionality and utility of our search engine, and describe the unique materials we have developed to guide Settler K-12 teachers in exploring their own positionality with respect to the resources in our database and towards mindfully holding space for IAK in their classrooms.