Making Science InterestingNov 15th, 1994 | By tcj | Category: 6-3: Philanthropy, Tribal College News
Children as young as ten will benefit from a grant awarded to Fond du Lac Community College for a new computer science and engineering curriculum.
An 11.38 million grant from the National Science Foundation will allow the Minnesota tribal college to develop a lower division computer science program designed specifically to support American Indian students. It will emphasize mentoring and integrate Native American culture in all math and science classes. Ultimately, students will be encouraged to transfer to four-year institutions.
The grant will allow the college to develop the curriculum, purchase needed equipment and train staff and faculty.
Along with the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, the college will also hold summer camps for American Indian children in grades five through eight. In addition, bridge-to-college camps will be offered for high school students, where traditional culture will be integrated into the study of computer science.
According to Ted Wetherbee, a project investigator and member of the college’s faculty, the summer camps will not turn the students into computer programmers, but will instead “expose them to interesting activities, pique their interest…show that science is a part of [tribal] culture.”
The Fond du Lac Ojibwe School will also become connected to the Internet, allow the staff and faculty to communicate with the colleagues at the tribal college, government and non-Indian colleges and universities. Students, too, will tap its resources, taking advantage of the data and library resources it contains. Mostly they will see, first hand, the excitement of computer communication before it becomes intimidating. “The kids are willing to experiment,” says Wetherbee.
The grant is a significant step for the new college. Although it opened in 1987, Fond du Lac Community College became a full-fledged community college this past summer. Until then, the college operated as an extension campus affiliated with Mesabi Community College.