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NSERC grant provides $18,000 in each of three years to support development of ANCEStor project

July 8, 2010

Camosun College is one of 51 organizations across Canada to receive funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), as part of the PromoScience funding aimed at inspiring young people to choose careers in science and engineering.

Camosun will receive $18,000 in each of three years to develop a pilot program known as ANCEStor (Aboriginal youth awareNess of ComputEr Science.) ANCEStor teaches the concepts of computer programming by engaging Aboriginal youth in cultural story-telling.

“The value of story-telling as a teaching tool is well recognized,” says Dr. Marla Weston, computer science instructor and one of the project leaders. “Telling a story gives value and significance to events that have meaning in their lives. Students will learn more if they feel empowered as participants, rather than being passive recipients of knowledge.”

ANCEStor uses Alice 3D software to create videos and simple computer games. The PromoScience funding will be used to customize the program for an Aboriginal youth audience.

Camosun will work with Aboriginal communities to develop a library of culturally appropriate images and sounds. The end goal is to provide educational packages that include software, training materials and lesson plans for both students and teachers.

The project team will work with urban and rural communities, to ensure the program is relevant to Aboriginal youth living in different regions. Some of the funding will support travel costs to allow the team to connect with youth and cultural knowledge keepers in remote communities.

“We’ve seen strong community interest already,” says Dianne Biin, instructor in Camosun’s Aboriginal Education and Community Connections department. “We’ve done two workshops so far that were very well received, one at the recent S’tenistolw education conference in Vancouver and the other at the LÁU,WELNEW Tribal School in Brentwood Bay. We are planning to deliver ANCEStor as summer or spring break sessions in other Aboriginal communities."

“At the end of the day, we want ANCEStor to be a tool that First Nations communities will use to help their young people develop a greater understanding of their own cultures,” says Weston. “We also hope this program will encourage Aboriginal youth to consider a career in computer science.”


Saryta Schaerer
Program Chair, Computer Science department

Last updated: July 9, 2010 9:04 am

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