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A Weekend Stem Enrichment Program For Tribal High School Teachers And Students

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Outreach and Recruitment

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.146.1 - 11.146.13



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Paper Authors

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G. Padmanabhan North Dakota State University


Wei Lin North Dakota State University

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Wei Lin

Dr. Wei Lin is an Associate Professor of environmental engineering in North Dakota State University. He also serves as the Director of the interdisciplinary Environmental and Conservation Sciences graduate program. Dr. Lin teaches environmental and water resources courses at undergraduate and graduate levels. His research areas include water and wastewater treatment technologies, wetland studies, and river water quality modeling and management. He has participated in the ONR, NASA and ND EPSCoR funded Native American educational outreach projects as program coordinator and program director. He has worked collaboratively with tribal college instructors and high school teachers. He serves as the faculty advisor for American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Student Chapter at NDSU.

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Robert Pieri North Dakota State University

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Robert Pieri

Dr. Robert Pieri is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering in North Dakota State University. He served as the Chair of the department from 1996 through 2002. Prior to coming to NDSU, ten years of his teaching career were spent as an instructor/professor at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). Dr. Pieri has a ten-year involvement with the American Society for Engineering Education and has served as a co-chair for ASEE’s new Engineering Educator Division. Dr. Pieri has worked with the tribal college instructors and Reservation high school teachers on several educational outreach projects not only as PI or CoPI and also as instructor and program coordinator. He spent a year of sabbatical at the Turtle Mountain Community College on the Turtle Mountain Reservation helping them with curricular improvements.

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Floyd Patterson North Dakota State University

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Floyd Patterson

Floyd Patterson is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at North Dakota State University. Professor Patterson has several years of experience teaching the introductory and motivational material to Electrical Engineering freshmen. In this course he illustrates physical phenomena in graphical and/or mathematical form using MATLAB. He has been involved as an instructor in several of the on- and off-campus educational outreach project activities not only with the Native Americans but also with other middle and high school students in the area.

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Eakalak Khan North Dakota State University

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Eakalak Khan

Dr. Eakalak Khan is an Assistant Professor in Environmental Engineering in North Dakota State University. He is a recent recipient of an NSF CAREER award, which has a component that will accommodate Native American students in the research. Dr. Khan has participated in several outreach project activities on and off-campus. He is currently the coordinator of the weekend academy activity reported in this paper. He also serves as the advisor for a student group without Borders. Dr. Khan has successfully motivated the students from this group and others to participate in educational outreach activities to motivate middle and high school Native American students to pursue engineering and science careers.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Weekend STEM Enrichment Program for Tribal High School Teachers and Students


Attracting high school students to college engineering programs has been recognized as a challenge by several engineering organizations. One of the reasons for the low percentage enrolment of high school graduates into engineering programs is that many math/science teachers and counselors lack understanding of engineering applications within the subjects they teach and prospects associated with engineering careers. The instruction at the school level is often criticized for not adequately emphasizing science and mathematics, especially connections with engineering applications. Many students have difficulty connecting math and science courses to common phenomena seen all around and to future careers. This problem is further aggravated on Indian reservations in North Dakota because of their isolated locations and distance from industries. The authors developed a weekend academic program, “Sunday Academy”, carried out on four North Dakota Indian reservations, to stimulate Native American students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), to attract to engineering programs, and to engage high school teachers and tribal college instructors in the process of developing engineering and applied science lesson plans. The academy consisted of a series of one-day academic sessions presented monthly to junior and senior high school students. The lesson plans for the sessions were developed collaboratively by a group of university and community college faculty and high school teachers. This project provided unique opportunities for engineering professors to work with high school students directly, to familiarize high school teachers and tribal college instructors with engineering concepts and approaches, and to be knowledgeable about and sensitive to Indian culture. To make it a successful program, the authors had to overcome various challenges, including selection of lesson topics and hands-on activities that are interesting and suitable for the students, and engagement of high school teachers and tribal college instructors in learning engineering concepts while respecting their expertise. In this paper, approaches used in the topic selection and lesson plan development, implementation of student activities, impacts on high school teachers and students, challenges faced by the collaboration, and lessons learned are discussed. The academy model is generic and may be applied to any high school student population.


According to the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s 2004 Science and Engineering Indicators, only 328 American Indians and Alaska Natives earned bachelor's degrees in engineering in 2000. Although this number is impressively larger than the total in 1977 data when only 135 degrees were awarded, the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives earning engineering degrees remains abysmal. Native Americans are going into higher education in greater numbers. But for many, perhaps because of inadequate exposure and participation in advanced math and science courses in high school, the pre-college education does neither prepare nor motivate them to aspire to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. In addition, they are not being exposed to rigorous math and science courses in 7th through 12th grade from experienced certified teachers. The Native American population experienced tremendous growth


Padmanabhan, G., & Lin, W., & Pieri, R., & Patterson, F., & Khan, E. (2006, June), A Weekend Stem Enrichment Program For Tribal High School Teachers And Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--3

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