In December, two students from Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community schools were invited by the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka to attend two science, technology, engineering, art and math (S.T.E.A.M.) workshops in Sri Lanka. The mission was called “Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead.”
Domnique Grey, grade 6, and Haley Smith, grade 7, traveled 9,533 miles to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience to learn about and share the culture of Sri Lanka, an island republic in the Indian Ocean located off the southeastern tip of India. As S.T.E.A.M. Ambassadors to the country, they helped out as facilitators in the sessions and met with local students and teachers. Also taking part in the mission and conducting workshops was Salt River Elementary School computer and technology teacher Angelo Fernando.
Two workshops were held in Colombo, the country’s largest city, on December 15 and 16, and one was held in Kandy, a city in the island’s mountainous interior, on December 18. They were attended by more than 100 teachers from across the country as well as curriculum developers at the Sri Lanka National Institute of Education.
Students participated in joint science activities covering the topics of engineering design, electricity and magnetism, podcasting, and robotics. During these workshops, American educators, including Fernando, presented hands-on workshops for Sri Lankan science and technology teachers to exchange best practices in science instruction and methods of increasing student engagement in the S.T.E.A.M. fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
Both Grey and Smith were excited to share their culture with the people of Sri Lanka. Smith shared in her winning essay that she hoped to learn everything she could about Sri Lanka while exchanging cultural knowledge as well as scientific knowledge.
“I wonder what kinds of houses they have, and what kinds of clothes [they wear],” said Smith, who was also curious about what kind of schools they have in Sri Lanka.
Grey, an SRES honor roll student, says she loves going to SRES because she is learning about her O’odham culture by gardening and singing traditional songs. On this Sri Lanka trip, she hoped to share her culture and learn about the local culture.
“I was chosen to represent our school, assist Mr. Fernando to facilitate S.T.E.A.M. workshops and share our culture with brilliant minds [from] around the world,” said Grey. “While there, I learned and saw many things that changed my life. Mostly that is if I fail, I can learn from my mistakes and try again. I met so many smart people that are making a difference in the world.”
Salt River Schools students, parents and staff were interviewed for Phoenix National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ-FM about their trip to Sri Lanka. The interview was aired on the morning of December 18.
Also on the trip were Parent-Community Coordinator Maria Chavez and Grey’s mother, Tara Grey and Smith’s father Travis Smith.
This opportunity was made possible through a grant partnership with the U.S. State Department and the Embassy of Sri Lanka. The program was also supported by Salt River Community Children’s Foundation and SRPMIC TV.
Please click here for an earlier story regarding the S.T.E.A.M. workshops.