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Experience With And Lessons Learned In A Stem Summer Camp For Tribal College Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Learning Needs and Educational Success

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.713.1 - 12.713.10



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Paper Authors


Wei Lin North Dakota State University

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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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G. Padmanabhan North Dakota State University


Robert Pieri North Dakota State University

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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 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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Experiences with and Lessons Learned in a STEM Summer Camp for Tribal College Students


Improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education among Native American students and attracting them to engineering programs have been the main focus of a long-term collaboration between North Dakota State University and five tribal colleges in the state. Each year, as part of this multi-pronged effort, a two-week summer camp is organized at the university for tribal college students and tribal high school graduates. The camp is designed and organized recognizing students’ cultural and socio-economic background, and specific needs due to their coming from remote rural areas. Objectives of the summer camp include: (1) introducing Native American students to different science and engineering disciplines; (2) exposing the students to research programs and career opportunities; (3) retaining their interest in STEM; (4) provide opportunities to experience campus and urban life; and (5) increasing enrollment in college level science and engineering programs. In the first week of the camp, students visit science and engineering departments, research laboratories and institutions, and industrial facilities to gain general understanding of different scientific fields, and application of science and technology in engineering practice. In the second week, students work in small groups with professors on specific project to learn more about specific disciplines though hands- on and exploratory activities. Exercises in mathematics, journaling, and presentation skills are integrated into daily activities. Students stay on campus during the entire period of two weeks of camp. In addition to academic activities, various social activities, such as sports, games, and visiting local Native American groups, are also organized. A group of university professors work closely as a team with the participating students in organizing activities, developing lesson materials and projects, and learning the challenges facing the students and their needs. In this paper, the camp components and the efforts to improve camp activities are discussed in detail. Outcomes of the camp are evaluated for their impact on the students and professors. Lessons learned from this summer camp provide a better understanding of learning styles and specific needs of Native American students, and will be beneficial for developing similar educational outreach programs.


Native Americans are going into higher education in greater numbers and have made progress in participating in math, science and engineering fields nationwide. Number of science and engineering baccalaureate degrees awarded to Native Americans has increased from 1,290 (0.4%) in 1987 to 2,782 (0.7%) in 2000 (Babco, 2003). However, Native Americans only represented slightly over 1% of the total undergraduate enrollment, and they are still more likely to be enrolled in two-year institutions. In 2001, Native Americans represented 1.3% of the total enrollment in two-year institutions and 0.8% in four-year institutions (Babco, 2005). This may be explained by the fact that most Native American Indians attend colleges and universities where their population is concentrated. Although Native American students are just as likely to pursue

Lin, W., & Padmanabhan, G., & Pieri, R., & Patterson, F. (2007, June), Experience With And Lessons Learned In A Stem Summer Camp For Tribal College Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2516

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