Waccamaw STEM Studio Plans Busy 2022

Members of the Waccamaw Siouan tribe will host a program with the Museum of Natural History in Whiteville Nov. 13.

The Waccamaw Siouan STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Studio has announced plans for events during 2022. Virtual career programs, scholarships, a youth wigwam challenge, and the Yacunne Community Camp will be the highlights of the organization’s busy schedule. 

January and February will spearhead the virtual career programs. The four-part series will feature tribal members in STEM fields and breakdown the importance of each college degree. Daniel Nolan, Chief Financial Officer of the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, will be featured in the mathematics portion of the program.  

A list of dates and events can be found on the STEM Studio Facebook page, and the series will be long-lasting on the organization’s YouTube page. 

The end of February will mark a significant event for tribal youth. The Wigwam Challenge is an architectural project that will allow kids to build a 1×1 wigwam out of natural elements just as their ancestors did.  

Each child will be sent a kit and have three weeks to complete their structure to turn in at tribal grounds. Wigwams will be put to the test against simulated natural disasters and judged by native tribal owned construction businesses. A $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to contestants in elementary, middle, and high school levels.  

The wigwams will be reconstructed after the simulations and brought together for display. “The village that will be displayed is symbolic,” said STEM Studio Founder Ashley Lomboy. “We are the village. A tribe comes together to support each other.”   

March will be also be geared toward scholarships for tribal youth. The STEM Studio will be pairing with United Tribe Scholarships to help give parents the information they need to get their children on the pathway to college. Lomboy says she hopes the collaboration will encourage kids to apply for scholarships, and the organization will be on standby if they need help to do so.  

The second annual Yacunne (Fish) Community Camp also take place this year. “I’m really excited about this event,” said Lomboy. STEM Studio will be partnering with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Island Wildlife to host the camp for two weekends back-to-back in April. 

The NCWRC will be onsite for demonstrations, and tribal members will be available if participants would like to learn about traditional fishing methods. The camp is open to the general public.  

June’s main focus will be the Star Preservation Project. The ongoing production is a way for the Waccamaw Siouan tribe to make sure their heritage lives on and gets passed down generation to generation.  

10 STEM Studio members were trained during the month of December to interview and record the older men and women of the tribe to pass down their stories and traditions to future generations. Due to the pandemic, each person has three elders to specifically interact with over the next three or four months. The end goal is to put together an accurate account of Waccamaw Siouan history without having to read several books to understand native life.  

“We want to build a timeline that is both written and oral, and that is digestible for anyone. Not just tribe members.” expressed Lomboy.  

Duke University reached out to the organization to bring plans for August to the surface. The college has offered to host a STEM day that will allow 24 children to attend classes taught by women in the Triangle area of North Carolina. These women are Waccamaw Siouan and have careers in STEM fields. Attendees will end the day with a full tour of the campus.  

If you are interested in attending any of the events STEM Studio has to offer during the upcoming year, you can visit the organization’s Facebook page to view information and links. Virtual programs and Star Preservation videos are available to view on YouTube by searching Waccamaw Siouan STEM Studio. To find out about their latest news and projects, visit www.waccamaw-siouan.org/news.    

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Jefferson Weaver is the managing editor of columbuscountynews.com and news director for WTXY radio. He can be reached at 910.632.4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@columbuscountynews.com.