The funds will advance product validation for the algae bioreactor used in carbon sequestration

Calgary – XX June 2024 – MindFuel is pleased to announce that its recent application for funding from the Indigenous Innovation Initiative (I3) has resulted in $125,000 to be used for product validation on an algae bioreactor, which was developed by an Indigenous youth innovation team to support environmental sustainability.

This shared success is the result of a collaborative agreement between MindFuel and Team Phoenix, a group of talented Indigenous youth –formerly students of Siksika Nation High School in Alberta– who developed a carbon capture and sequestration technology, under the guidance of their teacher, Izzy Ward, as part of MindFuel’s Tech Futures Challenge (TFC) 2022 program. The algae bioreactor project garnered the Best Innovation in Sustainability award ($1,000 prize) and, also, tied for Best Prototype award ($1,000 prize, shared with another student group.)  Prior to that, the same youth team, Siksika Robotics, won recognition at the November 2019 geekStarter Robotics Workshop for Most Improved Presentation, for their neuro-sensing smart robotic arm.

To learn more about Team Phoenix and their algae bioreactor project, please visit the TFC 2022 product showcase video: SNHS – an algae bioreactor to improve the environment’s air quality

According to Ward, who is also the I3 project innovation lead, and recipient of the 2023 Prime Minister Award of Teaching Excellence, “Phoenix is meant to be scalable, and youth across the country will be able to participate and contribute to a larger effort in greenhouse gas reduction, while also learning about and embracing Indigenous values and ways of knowing.” Ward adds, “As a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community, I see this I3 grant as a double win, in that it not only seeks to support Indigenous innovation, but also gender equity by giving voice to under-represented females, and two spirit people.”

MindFuel is committed to long-term relationships geared to increasing Indigenous youth STEM innovation skills and learning development through projects, and recently published results of its three year study in partnership with Future Skills Centre, Building Pathways into STEM Innovation Futures for Indigenous Youth, which outlines a learning framework that supports long-term economic opportunities for Indigenous youth.

“MindFuel has a decades-long history of making the innovation and technology space more accessible to youth, especially those traditionally under-represented,” says Cassy Weber, CEO of MindFuel.  “We’re particularly proud of our collaborative work alongside Indigenous communities not only in this I3 opportunity, but also, in our recent study with Future Skills Centre,” she says.  “We demonstrated that high learning engagement results when project-based learning is combined with knowledge sharing, while interweaving Indigenous ways of knowing and western science.  Through this two-eyed seeing approach, Indigenous youth have the right learning context to excel in STEM innovation, and 70% of youth indicated an increase in innovation mindset development.”

“The Indigenous Innovation Initiative (I3) is excited to support The MindFuel Foundation in supporting Project Phoenix – Tackling climate change through indigenous STEM innovation and gender diversity.”, said Alexandra Langford-Pezzo (she/her), of Indigenous Innovation Initiative. “The MindFuel Foundation was successful in its application to our most recent RFP, Advancing Indigenous Gender Equality through Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship Program. The purpose of this RFP was to offer funding to First Nation, Metis, Inuit women and two-spirit+ community by providing access to capital in the form of a year-long grant for them to dream big and pursue social Innovation.”

Ward says, “MindFuel and its Tech Futures Challenge program have played a critical collaborative role in providing me and my students with supports, such as skills building workshops and project funding, which helped us in the development of Phoenix, and our I3 success is an excellent example of how collaborations that merge traditional Indigenous worldviews with STEM innovation result in product innovation and economic opportunity.”


 About MindFuel
The MindFuel Foundation (formerly Science Alberta Foundation) is a registered charitable organization committed to creating youth innovation talent. Since 1990, we have been developing and distributing captivating, high-quality, 21st century programs that ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) innovation in K-12 and collegiate aged students. The programs are technology based and technology infused, developed to serve both in-class and extracurricular learning. To date, MindFuel has invested over $124M into Canada’s innovation ecosystem in over 1,600 communities, serving youth populations, including Indigenous students, females in STEM, economically disadvantaged youth, remote/rural students, racialized youth, and newcomers to Canada.

MindFuel also delivers eLearning programming through its wholly owned subsidiary, Wonderville Enterprises Ltd., which reaches hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, and parents each year in every province and territory, supporting over 600,000 learning sessions annually in Canada, and over 6,000,000 globally. Since inception, MindFuel has delivered over 153,000,000 learning sessions in over 190 countries with its online STEM programs.

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About I3

The Indigenous Innovation Initiative empowers First Nation, Inuit, and Métis innovators and communities to address their own challenges and drive inclusive growth through new or improved ideas, programs, products, or services. Hosted at Grand Challenges Canada, the initiative was founded to address health, social, and economic challenges and promote community-led Indigenous innovation. It aims to improve all life through Indigenous creativity through its core principles of honouring Indigenous ways of knowing and being, respecting Indigenous laws and rights, and protecting the Land and Water.

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 For further information: 

Media contact:
Cassy Weber, CEO
The MindFuel Foundation

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