Discipline: Science and Mathematics Education
Subcategory: Chemistry (not Biochemistry)
Linda Nicholas-Figueroa - University of Alaska Fairbanks
Co-Author(s): Rebakah Hare, Arizona Western College, Yuma, AZ Lawrence Duffy, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK Catherine Middlecamp, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Students in rural villages of Alaska are rarely exposed to science education outside of the classroom and the classic style of Western education is often not enough to keep the students engaged. The incorporation of informal science modules with traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) engages students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. During the summers 2012-2015, Iḷisaġvik Tribal College, located in Barrow Alaska, hosted an average of 12 rural Alaska Native middle and high school students per year in the college’s summer STEM program called “Climate and Permafrost Changes on the North Slope: In Cultural Context.” Teaching the carbon cycle as a core concept, this two week STEM program examined climate change and its effects on the local landscape from a multitude of perspectives. Elders shared their observations and experiences associated with climate change. Local and visiting scientists gave presentations and taught through games, hands-on laboratory simulations, and practical field work – all relevant to the camp’s science content. Pre-assessments and post-assessments using the Student Assessment of Learning Gains measured student interests and conceptual understanding. Students developed and enhanced their understanding of science concepts and can articulate the impact of climactic changes on their local environment. Future effort will be devoted to the development of similar modules focused on traditional ecological knowledge and STEM topics. Science curricula in the form of short courses such as a biotechnological skills workshop, and citizen science projects with the North Slope Borough School District are being developed. Next steps include partnership with UIC Science, a subsidiary of the Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation, to create internships for college and high school students to work with local and visiting scientists in Barrow. Our goal is to engage students so that they can see STEM’s abstract (invisible) concepts in their lives and communities. It is practical to combine the traditional, holistic world view of the community with the reductionist scientific approach. The community’s perspective is that “Western Science” has much to learn from traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and its associated values of living on the land. In order to maintain a dynamic culture, it is essential that TEK be a strong component of their children’s education for their long-term well-being. Teaching science in a holistic, informal context with both Western and traditional ecological knowledge provides a balanced perspective as we educate tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers.M114
Funder Acknowledgement(s): We would like to acknowledge the Arctic Slope Community Foundation, grants ASCF005 and ASCF026.
Faculty Advisor: Lawrence Duffy, email@example.com
Role: I developed the course curriculum with the second author, Rebekah Hare, participated as a camp program coordinator, and was one of the camps program instructors. Understanding the carbon cycle and its impact on climate change was the recurrent theme of the two week program. As an instructor, I introduced the concept of the carbon cycle and reinforced the concept through a variety of activities. Specifically, foundational topics such as carbon chemistry, weather and climate, greenhouse gases, atmospheric CO2, and global warning were presented. I organized the guest speakers - local and visiting scientists and community Elders and the field trips. I derived the questions with my advisor, Larry Duffy, for the preassessment and post-assessment learning gains and analyzed the results.