Back to the Earth
Over 80 students in grades 4-10 living on Native American reservations in the Inland Northwest have participated in culturally rich experiences that focus on place and STEM content.
The University of Idaho proposes to engage 90 students in grades 4-6 and six teachers on two neighboring Indian Reservations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning through culturally-based and content rich experiences and activities focusing on the large watershed shared by the tribes. The project will deliver a summer and after-school programs for the Coeur d'Alene Reservation. Students will create a "virtual watershed", a web-based site comprised of an interactive map, which will provide geospatial locations of social, cultural, and scientific significance. The proposal is centered on two guiding frameworks, Critical Pedagogy of Place and Adventure Learning. These established frameworks provide a sound foundation for program activities and evaluation. Critical Pedagogy of Place is relevant to the Native American Students in the program. Adventure Learning, with an inquiry-based approach, is well-suited to STEM education. The evaluation is both formative and summative. The project aims to enhance STEM content understanding, improve attitudes toward STEM careers, and assist in building community partnerships. A design-based approach to STEM instruction using current technology will be used to give students a hands-on culturally based foray into the world of STEM professionals. An Adventure Learning environment will be created allowing students at both tribal locations to share their experiences by uploading data, stories, learning experiences, and thoughts, in real time.