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Integration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge with STEM Curriculum on Wind River Indian Reservation

Semester: Summer 2023

Presentation description

Data from U.S. Department of Education in 2019 shows that Native American students had the lowest on-time graduation rate in the United States. In 2023, three school districts on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming with 97 to 99 percent Native American students experienced both lower graduation and attendance rates than the state average (Shippon, 2023; Maloney, 2023). In addition, previous work has indicated that this issue has been exacerbated by environmental hazards such as air pollution, food insecurity, and energy scarcity. To address this issue, our team has begun a study in Wind River to better understand how to improve educational outcomes, especially in the STEM fields. We hypothesize that the integration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts with Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), which includes the use of traditional knowledge and practices that have been passed down over generations in a specific place (Hunn, 1993), may help to create more interest among the student populations there. As Sobel (2005) proposes, pedagogy that is affiliated with local contexts, known as place-based education, can boost students' academic excellence, foster cultural connection, and empower youth to become agents of change within local communities. To study this hypothesis, we will develop curriculum for the schools in Wind River, which explored varied socio-cultural values of Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho-the two indigenous tribes of the reservation-and incorporated those with STEM education for 10th graders. This curriculum will be vetted by teachers on the reservation and then run in the classroom there. We will then assess the impact of this curriculum on learning there. Additionally, future research can track the effectiveness of these lessons and student response to the content. This can then help refine and develop further content for classes.

Presenter Name: Mike Komigi
Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #12
College: Social & Behavioral Science
School / Department: Political Science
Research Mentor: Tabitha Benney
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 9:00 AM