Author Archives: Kathryn Williams


Science Grrl

 Science Grrl is a grass roots organization, based in the UK, that celebrates and supports women in science. Interestingly, the organization began when the European Union’s ‘Science – It’s a Girl Thing’ campaign struck outrage when the advertisement didn’t actually include any real science! You can watch the original video below:

Science Grrl wanted to change the idea that science had to become pink or all about makeup in order for girls to be interested. Their tag line is “Because science is for everybody” and they are working hard to address the underrepresentation of girls in the STEM subjects. In 2014 Science Grrl published a report, Through Both Eyes: the case for a Gender lens in STEM, which is an excellent read. The report looks at the need to challenge biases and stereotypes and to seriously look at the cultural messages – visible and invisible –that are passed on to young girls. The report claims that the decision-making of girls and their uptake of STEM subjects relies on three main facts:

  1. Relevance of STEM = Is it for people like me?
  2. Perceived, actual and relative ability = Do I feel confident?
  3. Science capital = Can I see the possibilities and pathways?

You can access the full report here:

This report has been very helpful to me in rationalising our lesson plans and teaching resources for our final project.


Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Teaching Resources

This Government of Canada website has some excellent teaching resources for kids aged 4-16, particularly in their Learning Circle resources. The resources include: Indigenous stories, (both the written version and an audio file); interviews with Indigenous youth from around Canada; and, suggestions for literary images. I like how each lesson has general information, several units and teacher resources, making it easy for teachers to pick out bits and pieces that they see best fitting with their classroom learners.


Embedding indigenous perspectives in teaching school science

Appanna, S. D. (2011). Embedding indigenous perspectives in teaching school science. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, The40, 18. Retrieved from;dn=610014455255962;res=IELIND

This article is helping me shape the scheme of work I am creating for our final project. In the article, Subhashni Appanna argues that we must first understand the barriers that face Indigenous teenagers when trying to understand Science, before we can aim to improve teaching and learning for these students. For example, Appanna states that, “The relevance of the school curriculum is a key factor in Indigenous students leaving early” (Appanna, 2011, p. 19). She then outlines how improvements to teaching practices can improve interest and success rates of Indigenous students learning.  Many of these correlate with the information from our readings in the course to date. For example: the need for positive teacher-student relationships; recognition of Indigenous Knowledge Systems; and, the essentiality that teachers must pursue links with Indigenous communities. I found Appanna’s analysis of Indigenous learning styles interesting and helpful for my final project. For example, she states that when teaching Indigenous students, holistic rather than analytic tasks, and visual more than verbal oppurtunities for output will play to their strengths (Appanna, 2011, p. 20).


Camp blends scientific, cultural teachings for aboriginal girls

The aim of this three-day camp, based in Waterloo, Ontario, was to get Indigenous girls in grades 6-8 the chance to engage with cultural and scientific activities and interested in STEM subjects. The rationale behind this demographic was to reach them before they get the choice to opt out of certain subjects in high school. This program is unique as it involved caregivers and parents with the aim that this would encourage students to study these subjects, and to consider the possibility of a STEM career in the future. The University of Waterloo is aiming to host this free camp annually.


Get Them Interested

Love, D. (2014). Get Them Interested. Learning & Leading with Technology41(7), 25–27. Retrieved from

This article discusses how to get girls interested in coding and programming. The author, Dorian Love, discusses several practical tools with which he has found success in this realm. Firstly, he often uses the discovery method when students are using a new tool, giving the students the resources to have a go by themselves and, secondly, for peers to teach and mentor each other (Love, 2014, p. 25). I have found this strategy to have positive implications on my own students when I’m introducing coding to them through the app, Move the Turtle. Love describes a competition he designs for his students to make their own flash games, which he claims takes the ‘nerdyness’ out of programming (Love, 2014, p. 27). His ideas made me think about what I could do in my own classroom to create more of an interest in coding and programming as well as how I could incorporate this into my final project.






Module 3 Weblog – Kathryn Williams (née Gardner)

  1. Persistence of women and minorities in STEM field majors: Is it the school that matters? Amanda L. Griffith

Grittish, A, L. (2010). Persistence of women and minorities in STEM fields majors; Is it the school the matters? Economics of Education Review, 29(6), 911-922. 

Griffith explains that there is a gap between the representation of women and minorities in STEM fields post-university compared to the numbers of men or majority groups. She argues that this is due to two reasons: first, women and minorities are less likely to choose STEM subjects to study at university and second, they are less likely than men and majority groups to remain in that major until graduation. Her study looks at the impact of their previous educational experiences, impact on their post graduate choices and selections, the influence that female professors have on female students and minorities graduation rates in STEM fields. 

  1. Aboriginal woman defies odds in science – Derek Sankey, Calgary Herald

This article focusses on Indigenous woman Becky Cook, who grew up in Manitoba. She attended the University of Manitoba and now works as a geophysicist. Cook attributes her success to community support. She now mentors young Indigenous girls and tries to make them more aware of the options available to them post-high school. While researching Indigenous women in STEM careers, I have found several articles like this one which highlight an Indigenous woman who has overcome many barriers to achieve success in STEM subjects. The articles, like the one above, are often inspirational. I find these articles very interesting but they led me to ask more questions. When will there be fewer barriers in the way Indigenous women achieving success in these fields? How can the norms be changed so that an Indigenous woman achieving success in scientific or mathematical careers is no longer newsworthy and becomes the norm?

  1. Implementing Meaningful STEM Education with Indigenous Students & Families

This website suggests many practical tools for including Indigenous knowledge systems in STEM subjects in the classroom. A very simple tool which is highly recommended is ‘observation of the natural world.’ Further recommendations include connecting STEM subjects to the everyday community responsibilities of Indigenous students, inviting guest speakers into the classroom and taking children outside school to have different experiences.

  1. Putting Raven Back Together Again – Case Study

This case study describes the experiences of students who took part in the Native Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Summer Camp in Seattle in July 2015. Taking the original STEM subjects, this camp combined them with the Arts. Campers were encouraged to think deeply about their surroundings whilst celebrating the Indigenous way of knowing. The camp used Indigenous stories and combined them with modern sciences. They gave the example of mischievous Raven being thrown off a cliff and the environmental consequences that followed and connected this to modern human caused environmental problems and drought. The program developers noticed that there were not very many science-oriented camps for Indigenous kids and that is why the camp was set up, as the organizers believe it will help increase Indigenous student achievement as well as their overall well-being.

  1. Alberta Women in Science Network –

The Alberta Women in Science Network (AWSN) assists STEM outreach programs to share resources and support each other to achieve shared goals. The network’s vision is equal opportunity for all in STEM. Developed in 1994, AWSN has advanced STEM opportunities for young girls and has helped women in STEM careers to share resources. The network also recognized that Indigenous people were underrepresented in the STEM fields and developed programs that were specifically geared towards them. For example, the Power to Choose program gives Indigenous youths in grades 7-12 the knowledge and power to choose a career and encourages them to stay in school to achieve these goals. The three pillars of the organization are: recruitment – encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue their interest in STEM; retention – helping STEM-trained professionals to find and retain work in their fields; and recognition – recognizing excellence in STEM pursuits.


Module 2 Weblog- Kathryn Williams (née Gardner)

My research topic has changed and developed since the last weblog. On my Module Two entry I am looking more at Indigenous students and STEM subjects. My research is currently focused on barriers to Ingenious students being successful in STEM subjects and programs and initiatives that are trying to provide solutions to these obstacles.

How Native Kids see Science Differently – Interview with Megan Bang

In this interview with Megan Bang, an Associate Professor at the University of Washington, the discussion focusses on the Science curriculum and on education not being culturally responsive. She argues that the Science taught at schools is not based people’s communities and that it especially isn’t related to Indigenous communities at all. The interview also discusses STEM subjects being more middle class and the shift that needs to occur to see more Indigenous students interested and successful in these subjects.


Karlie Noon- Employed by the CSIRO’s Indigenous STEM Education Project

Indigenous woman Karlie Noon was the first Indigenous woman to graduate university in New South Wales, Australia, with joint degree in Mathematics and Physics. She went on to obtain her Master’s in Astronomy and Astrophysics. She had a disadvantaged upbringing and didn’t engage with school. An elder, however, tutored her in Mathematics once a week and that is how she found her potential in the subject. Karlie believes in the benefits of mentorship. She now works for CSIRO’s Indigenous STEM Education Project. If you Google her name, there are numerous articles, videos and podcasts that let you know about her and I’ve just included a few examples. In a great deal of the content, Karlie also discusses Indigenous people as the first scientists and explains this with great passion.


STEM.I.AM Initiative – Australia

STEM.I.AM is an Australian program aimed at increasing the number of Indigenous students studying STEM subjects at university. The initiative is directed towards students in grades 5-12 and the exciting programs range from coding and robotics workshops to establishing community-led coding clubs. STEM.I.AM “encourages Indigenous kids to go to school, stay at school and learn and engage with STEM through the fun of coding and robotics.”


Improving Science Education for Native Students: Teaching Place through Community by Megan Bang, Douglas Medin and Gregory Cajete.

In the article the authors state, “Science classrooms are often the sites at which Indigenous children are implicitly and explicitly told they the knowledge of their people, their histories, and their ways of developing knowledge of the world are a myth, informal of outright wrong.” Cajete argues that Indigenous Science is about knowing place and that everything is related. I chose this article because the authors outline ‘effective science learning environments’ and how to foster them; I always find practical examples helpful for my own teaching practice.


Science from a Native Perspective: How do we Educate for a Sustainable Future? Interview with Indigenous Science Scholar Gregory Cajote

In this interview, Gregory discusses his personal experiences of being as an Indigenous child in New Mexico; being successful at Science in school but then also being told different explanations by his grandmother at home. Even at a young age he sensed “a conflict of these two ways of looking at the world.” Cajote’s educational journey and his explanation of ‘Native Science’ is a topic that both very much interests me and one that I am hoping will feature in my final project.

Module 1 Weblog – Kathryn Gardner

I am still deciding about where I would like to focus my research but am thinking about drawing on my own experiences of girls’ education. Whilst reading this week’s readings, I found myself thinking about the experience of Indigenous girls in residential schools. This led me to think about Indigenous children and how gender impacts the educational experience of pupils today. This is just where my initial research has led me and it may change slightly over the next week!

  1. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, What We Have Learned: Principles of Truth and Reconciliation.

Whilst I’ll admit that I haven’t yet read this 200 page document in its entirety, I found it to be a fact-based document that increased my knowledge about the history of residential schooling in Canada. Moreover, it is helping me to research gender within education and explains the shift in the roles of Indigenous girls and women during this time. When delving further into research around this document I found that by typing Read the TRC report into YouTube you will find just under 150 videos of Indigenous people reading the report. The videos are powerful; their aim is to with engage with the report and to make as accessible as possible.

  1. Action for Indigenous Women: A friendship Centre Initiative

In my research, I’ve come across many studies that comment upon violence against Indigenous women. This is most certainly as aspect that would impact education and their ability to attend school, their relationships with teachers and peers and the wellbeing of Indigenous women and girls in general. This National Campaign to End Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls is an organisation that aims to raise awareness and to stop the violence and their website is full of information.

  1. Guardian Article:

In thinking about the education of Indigenous girls I questioned equal access and opportunity. I then came across this newspaper article. Although the article is about Indigenous girls in rural Australia and the rest of my sources are based in Canada, I found this article very interesting. Shame, embarrassment and lack of understanding around menstrual cycles are stopping Indigenous girls from attending school.

4. Northern Girls Research Review:

This research review brings together facts and statistics about the realities of life for Indigenous women and girls living in the North. The review’s purpose is for Indigenous women to be able to use the centrally located information to empower these women to become agents of change. It touches upon health promotion, violence prevention and media literacy which would all impact an Indigenous girls’ relationship with education.

  1. The Caring Society: Shannen’s Dream

This is a very interesting story about a young Indigenous girl, Shannen Kootstachin, demanding better education for all Indigenous children. She spoke about her experiences of her school on parliament hill and asked non-Indigenous children to write to their local government to ask for funding. Unfortunately, Shannen died in a car crash in 2010 but her legacy lives on in Shannen’s Dream. The website promotes the rights of Indigenous children, youth and families. Interestingly, Shannen was also recognized as one of the 150 Great Canadians and there is an interesting perspective on if Shannen would have been proud of this or not on the CBC.