Project Profile

Earth Partnership: Indigenous Arts and Sciences - Connecting STEM to Native Science


This project will advance efforts of the innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by producing empirical findings and/or research tools that contribute to knowledge about which models and interventions with K-12 students and teachers are most likely to increase capacity in the STEM and STEM cognate intensive workforce of the future.

The project will build a path to further research on best practices for Native American youth education. It will enhance the existing Indigenous Arts and Sciences (IAS) project by addressing cultural perspectives of Native students and educators. The approach describes the need to include ecological relevance in STEM learning for Native American youth, with an integration of Western science with Native knowledge, process, and core values, which will give a positive impact on Native American youth's interest in and learning of science. The project will deliver a culturally relevant stewardship-based education model applying science to indigenous knowledge and community culture connections in collaboration with four tribal communities in Wisconsin. Informal science education will come through the Earth Partnership (EP) and will involve participants in habitat restoration and stewardship as a context for intergenerational science learning across age, discipline, culture and place. EP Indigenous Arts and Sciences (IAS) integrates Western science with Native knowledge, process, and core values including relationship, reciprocity, respect and responsibility.

The project will convene the expertise of elders and community members from Red Cliff, Bad River, Lac du Flambeau, and Ho-Chunk Nations with university social, physical, and life scientists to expand informal science learning incorporating ecological protection and restoration, citizen science, and cultural diversity. STEM learning and career pathways for underrepresented groups will occur in an informal and culturally relevant contexts becoming important for enhancing ecological and STEM literacy, efficacy and civic engagement. IAS will engage students, educators, elders, informal educators, natural resource professionals, and parents in community dialogues and relationship building, informal-formal professional development collaborations, and indigenized STEM learning experiences and mentoring for students in grades 8-12. The science content will be explored through technology-enhanced, project-based learning in real-life contexts integrating culture in classroom and informal settings. This project is based on a growing body of research on Indigenous wisdom that reconnects Native youth and the broader community with the environment. The project occurs broadly at the intersection of science learning, environmental justice, ecological restoration, tribal history, and culture at a crucial time of global climate and social change. IAS will use this project-based learning model to advance the knowledge of how and why indigenizing informal science learning through a collaborative effort including elders, families, youth, formal and informal educators will revitalize culture, community and education.


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Principal Investigator(s)


Award Number
Project Duration
2016 - 2021
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, MI
Target Gradespan(s)
Middle school (6-8)
High school (9-12)
Project Setting(s)
Informal Education
Geographic Location(s)
Project Status
Additional Disciplines
Environmental Science - ecological research and analysis
Additional Target Participants
STEM Professionals
American Indian or Alaskan Native