OLC Partners with Schools To Improve Math, Science

Nov 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 21-2: K-12 Education, Winter 2009, Tribal College News

Oglala Lakota College (OLC, Kyle, SD) spent much of the summer improving the math and science skills of both teachers and students at the K-12 schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation through four different programs.

In conjunction with Little Wound School, OLC offered a Mathematics Academy July 27-Aug.7, 2009. Teachers from the OLC Foundational Studies Department, as well as several other OLC departments and area schools, gathered at Little Wound School to explore mathematics and prepare for the 2009-2010 school year. Students from grades 6-12, college students, GED students, and community members also participated.

The academy focused on experiential, field-based activities so that students would gain new insight into mathematics, a field which often leaves people feeling frustrated and fearful, according to Tom Raymond, the director of the Foundational Studies Program. For example, participants built and fired rockets to study trajectory, height, and distance.

OLC’s Math and Science Department facilitated three summer programs benefitting the Pine Ridge Reservation K-12 schools. For the fourth year, OLC hosted 45 reservation school teachers at the Summer Science Teacher Institute. The training is part of a five-year National Science Foundation grant to OLC to increase the number of highly qualified science, technology, and math secondary teachers. The three-week training included NASA curriculum, science fair development activities, and collaboration with the Little Shop of Physics from Colorado State University, which provided curriculum on climate, atmosphere, and physics.

OLC’s Lakota Native Science Field Center, funded by the Bush-Hopa Foundation, hosted its third annual Native Science Field Center Summer Program. The program director, Elvin Returns from Scout, worked with more than 20 junior high school students who explored local flora and fauna with cultural experts, OLC faculty, and interns over six weeks.

The students’ experiences culminated in a trip to Yellowstone National Park to meet with fellow participants from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.

Students in grades 5-12 learned about principles of flight, aeronautic design, and engineering basics at a program sponsored by NASA. Students worked in the Aeronautics Education Laboratory where they calculated the fuel requirements to simulate an actual flight over the Black Hills. Students also participated in a stargazing night with presenters on basic astronomy and Lakota star knowledge. OLC is the only tribal college participant in NASA’s Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy among 14 sites in the United States.

For information about the Math Academy, contact Tom Raymond by email traymond@olc.edu. For more information on the three other programs, contact Tawa Ducheneaux by email tducheneaux @olc.edu or phone (605) 455-6003.

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