Monday, October 21, 2013

Program promotes math and science among Alaska Natives, brings rural students to college campus

A University of Alaska program is trying to spark an early interest in math and science in Alaska Natives with the hope that the students will continue their education through college, earning degrees in math and science, Tim Bradner reports for Morris Communications, owner of several Alaska newspapers. Known as the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, the program, which only had one student in the university's science and engineering programs during its first year in 1995, now has 400 students. In 2012, 32 students graduated with degrees in math and science. (Alaska Public Media photo by Ellen Lockyer: An ANSEP instructor helping a student build a computer)

In order to reach rural Alaskans, many of whom live in very remote areas, ANSEP recently started a program to bring middle and high school students from 95 communities to the college's Anchorage campus for summer intensive programs that include an emphasis "on peer-taught study groups, with older ANSEP students teaching younger ones so that the older Native students are seen as role models," Bradner writes.

Professor Herb Schroeder, who founded ANSEP, told Radner that "more than 80 percent of the middle school students graduating from eighth grade who have been through ANSEP’s Middle School Academy have completed Algebra 1. Nationally, only 26 percent of students achieve this." One incentive to keep students interested is that the program gives every student a computer that they assemble—and get to keep—if they take and pass certain courses. (Read more)

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