Building STEM Identity and Career Interests in Native American Students By Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Remote Sensing Technologies
The project is designed to develop, implement and assess an educational model intended to improve Native American student science identity through culturally relevant use of technology that can directly improve the well being of their communities. The project will engage 90 low-income, high school Native American students from the rural Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho through a program of educational activities centered on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and remote sensing. The students will be trained in UAV use focused on remote sensing of Tribal ecosystems, as well as in science communication and leadership, as part of an enhanced curriculum during an immersive residential summer program at the University of Idaho (McCall) Outdoor Science School campus, located on ancestral Nez Perce Tribal lands. During the academic year, the students at will take part in learning activities focused upon UAV and remote sensing technologies, including virtual field trips, guest speakers, and other instruction delivered via videoconference. Students will take part in hands-on remote sensing and mapping activities of ecosystems that are integral to their culture such as riparian ecosystems (which support traditional and current Tribal fisheries) and forest ecosystems. Each school year will culminate in a large-scale mapping project that will be chosen and designed, based on student and Nez Perce community member input.
The project will investigate two central research hypotheses: that science identity is increased in Native American students when they engage in technology-based projects that directly relate to their community/cultural interests, and that interest and achievement by students in STEM education is sustained when community involvement is central to the approach. The project will collect data related to three constructs of science identity theory: competence, performance and recognition. Methods will include pre- and post-program surveys, assessment of STEM concepts, reflective journaling, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, observations, and longitudinal data collection. Data generation will focus on the three constructs of science identity theory: competence, performance and recognition. Through this work, we will contribute to a model of culturally-connected science identity that expands and enhances existing understanding about science identity. This project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program that supports projects that build understandings of best practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to engaging students in learning and developing interest in STEM, information and communications technology (ICT), computer science, and related STEM content and careers.