Previous Projects

The Faculty of Engineering has been collaborating with the Kahnawake Survival School (KSS) since 2017 as part of a STEM outreach initiative funded by PromoScience. We’ve worked with Secondary I and II classes, aiming to immerse students in unique experiences that foster inquiry-based learning, critical thinking, and meaningful connections to traditional Kanien’keha’ka practices and teachings. Together with the classroom teachers at KSS, we create opportunities for students to voice and explore their lived experiences in relation to the curriculum of study. You can read about what we have accomplished below.

Though the initial PromoScience funding is coming to an end, our partnerships with Kahnawake will continue. The faculty is committed to maintaining its relationships and supports to further develop opportunities for youth to explore their interests in fun, experimental, project-based environments.

Planet in Focus Film Festival

a student filming stop action In collaboration with the environmental film festival Planet in Focus and local Kanien’kehá:ka filmmaker Courtney Montour, the Faculty of Engineering supported teachers and youth at Kahnawake Survival School (KSS) to engage in a film-making project. This opportunity weaved culture, history, identity, storytelling, film-making technology, and community care and activism together through a film-based medium. Students had a chance to voice/explore their lived experiences in dynamic ways using live-action or stop-motion animation techniques.


This project intentionally encouraged students to engage in processes of storytelling to help develop their point of view, examine their lived experiences, organize their thoughts, enhance their literacy skills, and share and listen to stories in community. Multiple guests came to the class over the span of several weeks to diversify the learning. This exploration introduced students to the foundations of oral, narrative, and written storytelling. Students, teachers, volunteers, and guests had a chance to share life experiences, wisdoms, learnings, triumphs, and tribulations in an open and inclusive environment. We connected with one another through the stories our hearts long to tell, the stories that shape us and make us.

The Design Cycle & Shelter Building

3 people building a shelter using woods and tree branches in a woodThis project was brought to life with the help of McGill’s Engineers Without Border’s Youth Engagement student group, who worked with our E-IDEA team and teachers and KSS to create hands-on learning activities that showcased the engineering design cycle. Thanks to David McComber’s incredible shelter-building experience, we all got to go out in the forest and make debris shelters. Building the shelters allowed students to put the design cycle into action (while also practicing teamwork skills and having fun outdoors), reflecting on successes and challenges along the way.

The Lifecycle & Vermicomposting

With grades 7 and 8, we explored the difference between inorganic and organic waste in relation to the lifecycle, with the help of red-wiggler composting worms. Students got to test out how different materials would breakdown and decompose. Each class became responsible for their own vermicompost bin, needing to feed the worms and tend the soil throughout the year. Once ready, this soil will help us plant healthy gardens at school!

The History of the St. Lawrence Seaway & Building Birch-Bark Canoes

2 students working on a projectThis cross-curricular STEAM project brought math, science, history and English language arts together as we explored the long-term relationship between the Kanien’keha’ka people and the land and waters upon which they live. The Mohawk word Kahnawà:ke means “place on the rapids”, so it made sense to start our learning journey with the water. The unit was influenced by students’ curiosities. Each workshop was inquiry-based and encouraged questioning the “how’s” and “why’s” of our current actions as well as those who came before us.

The Kanien’keha’ka people are known for their skilled navigation of the St.Lawrence river via canoe. We looked at the waterway from ecological and economical lenses, examining the roles and impacts of colonialism and capitalism in the construction of the St.Lawrence Seaway.

With the help of a local expert canoe-builder, students built their own model birch-bark canoes from scratch. The technical aspects of this project involved: precise measurement, preparing the birch bark (soaking, softening, stripping, and slicing), careful attention to detail, and arranging and solidifying the bark without compromising the buoyancy of the canoes. The canoe building project required teamwork skills such as collaboration, trust, communication, taking risks, coping with failure, and managing shared responsibilities.

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