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Collaborative Project: Track 2: Manoomin, investigating the past, present, and future conditions of wild rice lakes on the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation

The manoomin ("wild rice") project is a combined research and education project to study northern Minnesota lakes that grow wild rice on lands of the Fond du Lac band of the Lake Superior Chippewa (FDL). Sediment cores are being collected from six wild rice lakes that are within the boundaries of the reservation to determine the history of the lakes both in recent times and prior to European settlement. The goal of the research is to understand the wild rice environment (e.g., water level, nutrients, competing plant species) and thus support improved strength of wild rice production. In conjunction with the research on these lake cores, the local Chippewa community is participating in and learning about the project through a monthly series of public forums, through undergraduate and high-school student research projects, through science enrichment activities for K-12 students, and through the participation of teachers from local schools, who are helping with the lake-coring research. Combined, these efforts are working to broaden participation of Native American students in geoscience and environmental science careers.<br/> <br/>The project is a collaboration between scientists and educators at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, the University of Minnesota's LacCore (National Lacustrine Core Facility), and FDL reservation resource management scientific staff. Additional collaborators include the Science Museum of Minnesota, faculty and staff from the gidakiimanaaniwigamig (Our Earth Lodge) Native American Youth Science Enrichment Program, the giiwed'anang (North Star) Undergraduate AISES Alliance, and programs of the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, and the Northstar STEM alliance. <br/><br/>Through the manoomin project, 25 Native American undergraduate and high school students complete research projects related to manoomin research goals each year. Another 50 K-12 students participate in monthly science clubs, where they interact with scientists from the university and the reservation, while learning about this precious community resource. Many of these undergraduate and K-12 students participate in a pre-REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program, where they spend a week in the summer conducting research, with the goal that they will pursue a research internship in the next year. Others participate in a week-long transitions program. This summer program uses the "Expanding the Circle: Respecting the Past; Preparing for the Future" curriculum developed at the University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration. This transition curriculum, developed in 2002, includes specific activities to prepare American Indians for the transition from high school to college. <br/><br/>In addition, by following the Circle of Learning philosophy of the gidakiimanaaniwigamig program, manoomin is a testing ground for a holistic teaching and learning methodology that uses seven key elements of learning to increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning in participants. Activities are designed to enhance seven elemental abilities: quantitative, conceptual, spatial, relational, metacognitive, verbal, and mechanical using an approach designed to promote growth in the whole individual.

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