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Bridge Design On The Reservation: A Study Of Curriculum Implementation With American Indian Youth

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Gender and Minority Issues in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.288.1 - 14.288.14



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Paper Authors


Siddika Guzey University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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Siddika Selcen Guzey is a PhD candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota where she also received her MA in Science Education. Her research interests focus on science teacher knowledge development, technology integration into science classrooms, and STEM education.

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Tamara Moore University of Minnesota Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Tamara Moore is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics/Engineering Education. Tamara is a former high school mathematics teacher and her research involves helping students engage in STEM disciplines through contextual problem solving. Her work on an NSF funded project entitled Modeling: Eliciting, Developing, Integrating and Assessing (MEDIA) Project is creating and researching multi-disciplinary engineering problems for use at the undergraduate and K-12 level. Problems from the MEDIA project are being extended to the Reach for the Sky project, as well as to local school districts, such as Mahtomedi Community Schools, who are implementing engineering into their curriculum.

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Gillian Roehrig University of Minnesota Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Gillian Roehrig is an Associate Professor of Science Education. Gill is a former high school chemistry teacher with a strong interest in engaging students in inquiry-based activities and integrating technology into science classrooms. Technology Enhanced Communities (TEC) funded by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education is an online learning community developed in collaboration with graduate students David Groos and Joel Donna for middle school science teachers in Minneapolis Public Schools working to integrate technology into their classrooms. TEC will be extended to include teachers on the White Earth Reservation.

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

Bridge Design on the Reservation: A Study of Curriculum Implementation with American Indian Youth Abstract

To promote engineering education with American Indian students in grades 5-8, a civil engineering focused curriculum was designed through collaboration among educators, researchers, and engineers. The curriculum was created to introduce American Indian youth to career opportunities in civil engineering, various civil engineering concepts, and the role of civil engineers in the technology driven 21st century. The emphasis of the curriculum is placed on structural engineering, which is a branch of civil engineering concerned with the design and structure of buildings, bridges, and roads. The curricular activities focused on one particular structure - bridges. Through the activities the students engaged in engineering, as well as science, mathematics, and technology.


Researchers have addressed various issues regarding the education for American Indian students1,2,3. School problems such as low enrollment and graduation rates, large percentage of absenteeism, suspension and expulsion, low achievement scores on math, science, and reading, and the high drop out rates are commonly associated with American Indian students’ education4. Several researchers have addressed the ways to improve the education of American Indian such as implementing culturally relevant curriculum3, applying Native American pedagogy5, and training teachers to meet the particular needs of American Indian students1. In addition to these, it has been addressed that parental involvement is a necessary factor for American Indian students’ achievement4. Thus, parents of American Indian students are highly encouraged to be involved in the education of their children.

American Indian students have different learning styles3. Their learning is environment dependent, and they think in more relational styles rather than in analytic styles3. In addition, they could not easily see the connection between the whole and its subcategories. As visual learners, American Indian students learn best by observing their parents or elders6. Preston suggests that using experiential learning and cooperative learning activities can improve these students’ problem solving abilities and can reduce their mathematics and science anxiety3. Furthermore, Preston points out that workshops, after school, and weekend or summer school opportunities that emphasize hands-on activities and applications to real life situations can improve American Indian students’ attitudes toward mathematics and science3. It is well documented that American Indian students demonstrate high interest and success as they participated in activity-based science programs7.

In this light, the innovative “Reach for the Sky (RFTS)” program at [removed for review] was developed as a summer and after school program to serve a specific group of American Indian youth – Anishinabe – who live on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota. The goal of the RFTS project is to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines more culturally relevant to the Anishinabe youth. More information about the program can be found at [URL removed for review]. The program is a three year collaborative

Guzey, S., & Moore, T., & Roehrig, G. (2009, June), Bridge Design On The Reservation: A Study Of Curriculum Implementation With American Indian Youth Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5138

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015