This month, a marine science camp is supplementing the science education in one Kodiak village. The week-long day camp is part of a program through the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor and fills a gap left in school curriculum.
Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor Tribal Administrator Bobbi Anne Barnowsky says Old Harbor hasn’t had a science teacher in five years, and she was the last person to fill the position.
“Because they don’t have a science teacher there, they have one secondary teacher now, and they teach all of the subjects, which is typical for a small school. And in the elementary school, the teachers don’t have a lot of time to do it, so they’re just not getting enough science in my opinion. I’m a former science teacher, so you have to understand that’s a focus for me and my child.”
She says that was one of the reasons she pulled her daughter out of school and now homeschools her.
Barnowsky says since her daughter is no longer a student at the Old Harbor school, she can’t speak to their current efforts in science education, but she says the tribe, the city, and the Old Harbor Native Corporation identified a science camp as a way to bolster an area of need.
“Science is the most lacking area for our kids, and so that’s why as a tribe we felt through our leadership summit we felt it was important to bring science to our children.”
Marine camp program director Switgard Duesterloh says the camp will be geared towards preschool aged students and up, and she’ll conduct different activities for each age group.
“In a preschool, you’ll want to explore and do a lot of sensitivity things, touching things and observing things. The older kids you’re gonna lead more into the science of things that we have here and also jobs that might come up around Kodiak.”
She says one of the activities the older campers will do is work on an underwater exploration robot kit.
“If they get as far as putting the ROV together, then there’s actually a camera on it, and they can deploy it in the harbor or around Old Harbor and look at the bottom of the ocean.”
She says the program has received grants which have enabled them to hire four teachers from the lower 48 for the duration of the camp. One is from Hawaii, one from Washington state, and two from Alabama.
Following the marine science camp, Old Harbor kids will have the opportunity to attend an Alutiiq culture camp that will include lessons in fishing, hunting, carving, basket weaving, and skin sewing.