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Elephant Thoughts Educational Outreach

Elephant Thoughts Educational Outreach is a Canadian educational charity founded in 2002. Originally working on international development in India, its primary focus now is science education outreach to First Nations and Inuit communities. With this new direction, Elephant Thoughts has worked in collaboration with teachers from these communities to develop innovative programs that aim to:

  • engage First Nations and Inuit youth in science, technology, and math by making these topics relevant both culturally and practically;
  • break down economic and geographic barriers to learning;
  • increase First Nations and Inuit graduation rates in the North; and
  • facilitate the transition to sustainable change in communities both in Canada and abroad.

These initiatives help to foster the development of important scientific, technical, and life skills among youth. These skills can improve students' willingness and preparedness for careers in the North, including those in the mining, government, and environmental sciences sectors.

Support for First Nations and Inuit.

In First Nations and Inuit communities, there is a clear need for engaging, interactive, and sustainable programs to combat the low school graduation rates that result from a lack of adequate, fulfilling, and inspiring education. Many children are two to three years behind their non-Indigenous peers and fall behind on standardized tests, such as Quebec's provincial math and science exam. However, with support from Elephant Thoughts' unique science and math programs, graduation rates for students at the Cree School Board in Northern Quebec have increased by a factor of almost 10, from 1.7 percent to 15.6 percent over a three-year period.

Elephant Thoughts also engages community Elders to participate in learning programs and to share their traditional knowledge. This bringing together of the rich resources of traditional Indigenous knowledge with Western science helps build bridges between First Nations and Inuit peoples and other Canadians to foster diversity and discovery for the benefit of all.

Science as a Teaching Tool

Elephant Thoughts practices the philosophy of "teaching a man to fish instead of giving a man a fish." In all their programs they strive to develop the local community's capacity to be self-sustaining and to deliver their own effective science programming. They operate as a facilitator and partner, supporting communities and often collaborating with other organizations and charities that already work in the communities. The organization sees science as a catalyst to teach self-reliance and to connect communities through education.

About the Award

The NSERC Awards for Science Promotion honour individuals and groups that are inspirational in the way they promote science to the general public. The Awards give an opportunity for Canada's science community to recognize, support, and encourage outstanding science promoters.

NSERC invites all Canadians with an interest in science, including teachers and university researchers, to contribute to the success of this annual award by nominating the science promoters they admire most.