Kid’s science show shines lights on Indigenous science

Photo courtesy of Loretta Todd

Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show stands out from competitors, especially for First Nations youth, with its central focus on Indigenous audience.

The show, created by Loretta Todd and team, is broadcasted on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) television network from Feb. 11 to May 6,2017. Todd is an independent Indigenous filmmaker who also produces television programs for youth; her team consists of many people with a First Nations background who value their cultural heritage.

Todd attributes her motivation behind the show’s creation to her desire to encouraging youth interest in Indigenous science. She feels if kids could see and learn about their own diverse cultures within the school curriculum, they’d be more interested and engaged.

“Most science classes don’t reflect that back – any cultures back other than Western – so it was important for me to do that so that Indigenous kids and their friends could see Indigenous science reflected back,” says Todd.

Indigenous science and the students

The show primarily focuses on exploring various scientific topics with a twist and a humorous overtone. Two show hosts, Coyote and his companion Isabella White from Nanaimo First Nations, guide the audience into a magical, thrilling adventure for new knowledge.

In each episode a new riddle appears, which is solved by Coyote and his friends by using various creative methods. Todd says that both Western and Indigenous scientific methods are utilized and incorporated in the show.

“Indigenous science method was basically go to a knowledge holder and find out more,” says Todd. “We also sometimes incorporate Western science techniques, which is basically experiment of some sort.”

Within the show, there are many characters that embrace their roles as either inquirers or hosts of knowledge. The ‘science questers’ is one of the inquirer roles comprised of youth going on a quest to solve the riddle, according to Todd. Meanwhile, Indigenous scientists, who are knowledgeable in their fields, can help the kids understand more in their quests.

Role models

The ephemeral John Herrington, first Indigenous astronaut to walk in space, has also joined the show to share his knowledge with the local youth.

“[Herrington] looks at things like the engineering feat of Machu Picchu in our architecture episode, or nixtamalization in the chemistry episode, which is basically using ash with corn to create a hominy as a healthier food source – which is something that Indigenous people have been doing two thousand years ago,” says Todd.

Indigenous celebrities also make appearances in the show, which Todd hopes will encourage kids to study science.

Indigenous science does not have the same image as ten years ago, says Todd, who has a positive outlook on her show.

“People didn’t think there was such a thing as Indigenous science and people who have been trying to bring it into the educational system had a lot of trouble,” she says. “But the door seems to be open now.”

Todd says the show is something she had been wanting to do for a long time, and recalls the initial process of getting the project started.

“It was pretty intense,” she says. “It’s very expensive to film in Vancouver these days.”

She attributes much of the tediousness and costs to getting permits.

“[But in the end],everything was sort of fun,” she says, expressing her joy for having accomplished the task she set out for.

Todd emphasizes the importance of Indigenous shows for children in the local community., and hopes that her show willcontinue to be successful in providing them with scientific and cultural knowledge.

“I really think that our kids need to see the next wave of scientists, who are going to bring cultural values, different ways of looking at the world,” she says.

Audiences can view all up-to-date episodes, including DIY guides and interactive web games featured in the show, online.

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