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M. Baron

Georgian College (CANADA)
This paper derives from an action research study of culturally responsive physics curricula experiences in a pilot Aboriginal pre-health community college program. The study explores ways of attracting and retaining students from under-represented populations in post-secondary allied health programs through the inclusion of culturally relevant explorations of scientific phenomena – physics in this instance. The pilot project featured in this paper used several culturally relevant modules. This paper details a module that examined the physics of the tipi to engage students and elders from nearby communities. The concepts of aerodynamics and thermodynamics were examined through the hands-on construction of working models of traditional tipi designs which students built themselves. The spiritual importance and teachings assoicated with the tipi were included in the lesson as was the respected knowledge and wisdom of generations past that used the identical technology to work with the laws of nature using traditional tipi constructions. The physics laws inherent in the construction and practical operation of these structures underpinned the cultural relevance and engaged the participants. Building on the success of this pilot course, a full Aboriginal stream of pre-health studies has been adopted at the community college and is proving to be popular with the target group and is successful in its goal of attracting and retaining students from the historically under-represented population.