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Two students from Carry the Kettle First Nation, located about 100 kilometres east of Regina, took home first prize at the Saskatchewan First Nations Science Fair March 10 to 11 in Saskatoon.

 

 

They made up one of two teams of two that competed in the senior division, which is for Grade 10 to 12 students.

 

Their win marks the First Nation's fourth consecutive year of placing first in the division.

 

Adrianna Simon and Tianna Cappo, Grade 11 and 12 students, entered a project that visualizes osmosis by placing eggs in jars with five different solutions: vinegar, air, hypertonic, hypotonic and isotonic.

 

“I was really hoping we would win an we did,” said Simon, who has been competing at the event for the last two years.

 

"The judges were really amazed by our experiment. They also complemented us on our politeness and how we introduced ourselves and our experiment."

 

For placing first, Simon and Cappo received free passes to the Saskatchewan Science Centre and Kramer IMAX Theatre in Regina for a year.

 

The event, which is put on by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, began in 2009. It draws students Grades 6 to 12 from First Nations across Saskatchewan to compete in four categories: 1) life science, 2) physical science, 3) earth and space science and 4) traditional knowledge. There is also a junior division, which is for students Grades 6 to 7, and an intermediate division, which is for students Grades 8 to 9.

 

“It has helped me in my science classes at school,” said Simon. “Now, I want to become a pharmacist, and learn about . . . drugs and how they go through your body – what happens to them.”

 

It would be such an accomplishment to help my school win for the fifth consecutive year next year, she said.

 

Simon’s classmates, Chelsea Jack and Mecate Smoke, entered an experiment that identifies carbohydrates.

 

“Due to excitement because we are winning, students in Grade 8 and Grade 9 - all grades - want to participate,” said Azam Ali, the Grade 10 to 12 science and math teacher at the Nakoda Oyate Education Centre on the First Nation.

 

Students at the school began working on their entries at the beginning of January. “Unfortunately, the science fair has a limit of two entries per First Nation. So, we can only choose a total of four students; two for each entry,” said Ali.

 

Students are chosen based on academic excellence, oratory skills, and delivery of knowledge, he said.

 

Ali has been helping guide students to first place at the science fair since 2011, Carry the Kettle’s first year of competing.

 

Garry Sibley, science and math consultant at the FSIN, has been organizing the event for four out of its six years. First Nations students don’t have an opportunity like this anywhere else in the province, said Sibley.

 

In addition to sharing their knowledge of Western science, First Nations students have the chance to exemplify their ways of knowing, he said.

 

The event is one of five similar province-wide science fairs in Canada.

 

“You can’t just pick up a book that says 'traditional knowledge.' Students have to have elders involved from their community,” Sibley said.

 

This year, were a total of 52 entries from 24 of Saskatchewan’s 72 First Nations. Seventeen of them were in the traditional knowledge category. Examples included drum-making, tanning hides and traditional colours.  

 

The entries came from as far north as Clearwater River Dene Nation near La Loche.

 

Entries in the traditional knowledge category are judged differently than the three, Western science-based categories. For instance, students and their projects must convey things like a sense of journey, a benefit to their community and a quest to become wiser.

 

First, second and third place-winners are selected from each division in each category. The prizes awarded to them ranged from an e-reader in the junior division, to a laptop in the senior division.

 

The ultimate prize of an all expenses paid trip to the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Winsdor, Ont. in May was awarded to two winners.