Compared to other minority groups, Indigenous People still participate in STEM at a lower rate. Contributing factors to this participation rate include lack of funding and the traditional way STEM is taught in K-12 schools and colleges. Making STEM education culturally responsive to Indigenous students makes education personalized, relevant, and accessible, which can help promote future diversity in our STEM workforce.
Integrate Indigenous Knowledge in STEM
Incorporating Indigenous knowledge into STEM lessons provides a rich context in which students can learn and see themselves as scientists. When looking at making your STEM lessons more relevant, you can consider how a sense of community is important for Indigenous students and develop projects that can involve families, communities, and traditions to spark students’ interests and make STEM culturally relevant. Indigenous learners respond positively to cross-curricular activities that draw on multiple subjects because they align with their educational traditions (edWeek).
Real-World Examples of Culturally Responsive STEM
The University of Ohio is partnering with tribal nations to incorporate indigenous knowledge in K-12 STEM with its Cultivating Relationships professional development program starting in the summer of 2023. The aim is to promote culturally responsive STEM teaching, and you can learn more about it by clicking here. Get even more inspiration from one K-12 school leveraging Indigenous technologies and craft practices while simultaneously promoting the connection between Indigenous-home and community-based practices. Watch the video here.
Connect Students to Mentors
Pair culturally responsive teaching with mentorships, and you’ll be on your way to boosting inclusion in your STEM program.
- Advancing Indigenous People in STEM (AISES) – provides students with critical support at the pre-college, undergraduate, and graduate levels to increase STEM graduation rates.
- Scholars in Science: Native American Path (SSNAP) – this program caters to undergraduate and graduate students and offers mentorships, workshops, and networking opportunities. This pathway is under the umbrella organization Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
On the flip side, do you know someone in tech who would make a good mentor? Refer a friend to become a mentor at Natives Rising. Click here to learn more about their tech mentorships.
What are some academic programs your doing to make STEM more inclusive to your students? Share with us in the comments below.