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Geoscience and Native American Culture: A field experience for Native American High School Students

Lake Superior Sate University (LSSU) will design and conduct new geoscience activities, including a one to two-week summer geoscience field experience targeting Native-American high school students. Lake Superior State University is located in Michigan's eastern Upper Peninsula where there is a substantial Native American population, e.g., approximately one third of the local high school students are Native American as is nearly 10% of the LSSU student body. Students participating in this new program will be engaged in activities that integrate selected geoscience concepts with indigenous cultures, knowledge, and native ways of knowing. The field based studies developed will require students to problem-solve, think critically, utilize methodologies that model scientific endeavors, and provide a focus for the acquisition and application of geoscience concepts. Students will use technology including computers to assist their learning of geologic concepts and the solving of geologic problems along with developing their technological expertise. Geoscience field studies will be conducted at a variety of localities, including a number of sites selected because of their interesting geologic features in addition to their having special significance to Native American's (such as: Bear Butte, SD; Pipestone, MN, Devil's Tower, WY; Bandlands and Black Hills, SD; Great Lakes and river systems; etc.). Students will integrate Native American explanations of physical phenomena with scientific explanations so that they individually construct the linkage between ways of thinking scientifically and ways of knowing from within their culture. Students will develop an understanding of the relevance of geoscience in their lives and in their communities. The selected activities will promote students' self confidence in pursuing geoscience knowledge and its applications to actual geologic problems. These High School students will work directly with Lake Superior State University faculty and students to successfully solve geologic problems. An objective of developing this program for Native American High School students is to increase their interest in and understanding of the geosciences, increase their interest and confidence in attending university and to increase their enrollment in university-level geoscience programs.

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Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region.