This post from the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development discusses how a successful program known as Reach for the Sky brought culturally relevant STEM education to American Indian students. As the authors note, integrating STEM culturally and socially means that science is present as an integral part of the students’ culture, not as something that done to a community.
“Integrating STEM helps classrooms become less formal and more realistic regarding how math and science are used in real-world settings. Students learn to use their brains in a ‘STEM-like way’ and aren’t confined to a desk all day. Curriculum that emphasizes hands-on activities and real world scenarios improve student understanding of STEM subjects. Reach for the Sky shows that science doesn’t have to be separate from culture.”
The project has led to a professional-development partnership to support and mentor regional Head Start teachers, with a goal of creating engaging environments for very young students that weave discovery-based science and math activities with Native philosophy and tradition, such as tracking, fishing, and hunting.