I arrived at work today to a special surprise waiting for me on my desk; A new STEM magazine from a Nunavut Based non-profit company! Root and Stem is a new magazine (Started in 2020) from Pinnguaq that is aimed at teaching STEAM skills to the peoples all across the arctic of Canada and Alaska. Root & STEM is only on its 3rd issue so far, so I thought I would go into a bit of history of the parent company, Pinnguaq.
Pinnguaq, which is the Inuktitut word for Play, was founded in 2012 in Pangnirtung, Nunavut with a focus on bringing technological experiences to Nunavummiut. (Residents of Nunavut) Over the years they have broadened to be nationally focused on providing STEAM experiences in learning and development to diverse communities all across Canada and Alaska. Pinnguaq has a Makerspace in Iqaluit that was opened in 2018 to help encourage the intersection of STEAM, language and culture.
The 3rd issue of Roots & STEM opens with a guest editorial from First-Person Shooter fame, John Romero. He talks about the beginnings of video game characters and their characterisations and cultural identities, at first talking about the Male-centric characters and then later discussing cultural diversity as well as culturally appropriate representation.
We then dive into a story about the table top RPG Coyote & Crow which is a 300-Page hardcover handbook featuring a fully realised alternate universe America where Europe was wiped out by a meteor some 700 years ago which sent the Europeans back to the dark ages. This allowed the Indigenous popilations of America to thrive and evolve. The creator, Connor Alexander, has been putting a lot if time and thought into creating a place that feels lived in. One of his goals was to create something that felt optimistic and hopeful, but was not a utopia, as well as not falling into the "noble savage" trope.
There are a few more articles in the magazine covering an Inuit-Inspired Card Game called Nunami, a talk about seeking better broadband in rural communities, an article on the Looking Glass Holographic Display, as well as many more. Around the centre of the magazine is a 4 page comic written by Cole Pauls that takes a look at Video Game characters that are "Just Like Us." I wanted to share this comic with the chain because it is a good insight into how cultures think of their representation in video games.
I like the take on representation in video game and how much better it is getting over the years. I also like how the comic takes the time to highlight multiple different indigenous cultures that have been represented in more recent years. I haven't heard of the game Mulaka before, nor Thunderbird strike.
Finally, this magazine ends out with some educator resources. Literal lesson plans that teachers can incorporate into their classrooms to help enhance their STEM course. they are printed on perforated card stock that can be torn out of the magazine for easy photocopying so that you can use these for years to come. Courses range from K-12 with this issue containing 4. This issues topic is "A brief introduction to serious games and their design." These modules include everything, learning goals, curriculum links, guiding questions, vocabulary, a list of materials and an estimate on the time required. They also include many additional resources for teachers including lists of books, games, and apps.
Roots & STEM is a wonderful STEAM focused magazine that is aimed at Inuit and Eskimo children and their educators. I think that every school in the North should have a subscription to this free magazine to help inspire children to delve deep into the many paths of STEM careers.
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