The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is implementing a novel, micro-financing approach to broadening participation of Native American students in the geosciences. Through a competitive mini-grant process, AISES Student Chapters are developing and delivering community-based outreach and learning opportunities on geoscience topics for Native American urban and rural communities. There are currently 173 AISES Student Chapters nationwide and all are eligible to apply for the mini-grants during this two-year proof-of-concept award. Mini-grants in the amount of $3000-$7000 are being used by AISES Student Chapters to: 1) increase awareness and recruitment in the geosciences among Native American undergraduates and improve content knowledge in geoscience disciplines; 2) prepare students for successful careers in the geosciences by engaging then in professional development experiences requiring grantsmanship and project management; and, 3) educate students on how to share the relevance of geoscience knowledge with the public through Service Learning and Informal Science Education projects. This project directly serves the NSF goal of broadening participation in STEM disciplines and advancing the Directorate for Geosciences' strategic priority of increasing public Earth System Science literacy.

Project Report

. Purpose: This NSF funded, two-year demonstration project in geoscience education was designed to increase the number of American Indian undergraduate students majoring in geoscience fields or integrating geoscience-related coursework and knowledge into their science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field of study. Goal 1: Increase awareness and recruitment in the geosciences, and improve content knowledge in geoscience disciplines. Objective 1: Create and deliver a new competitive funding program, Mini-Grant Opportunities in the Geosciences for AISES Student Chapters. Goal 2: Prepare students for successful careers in the geosciences by engaging them in professional development experiences requiring grantsmanship and project management. Objective 2: Deliver grant writing training and project management training through mentoring, Power Point presentations, written materials and webinars. Objective 3: Convene student-directed grant writing sessions at the National Conference and project management workshops at the Leadership Summit in the spring. Goal 3: Educate students on how to share the relevance of geoscience knowledge with the public through Service Learning and Informal Science Education projects. Objective 4: Develop and deliver sessions on community-based outreach and informal science education at all AISES conferences: National Conference, Leadership Summit and Regional Collegiate Conferences. Project Activities: Outreach and marketing activities included postings on the AISES website and targeted communications to over 180 AISES College Chapters, chapter advisors, and undergraduate and graduate student members in the AISES network. In 2011 and 2012, AISES provided education and professional development trainings to develop the capacity of students seeking mini-grants for their college chapters. Under the direction of AISES project team leads, student-led grant writing training was provided at the 2011 AISES National Conference in Minneapolis, MN and the 2012 AISES National Conference, Anchorage, AK. These training sessions ensured that the attendees would gain the skill necessary to respond to a competitive RFP for research projects. Over the 2-year period, AISES made mini-grants (sub-awards) to 12 different colleges utilizing a request for proposal process. The solicitation required students at AISES College Chapters develop and deliver community-based outreach and learning opportunities in geosciences for Native American communities. Applicants were required to develop and deliver informal science education activities for Native Americans in urban or rural communities either on or off Tribal Lands. The science education projects needed to actively involve both pre-college students and AISES College Chapter members. Examples of projects included: 1) a high-school college day where students visit a college campus with day long activities exposing the high school students to a certain geoscience topic; 2) a tribal school tour by AISES members to K-12 schools to present a chapter developed curriculum; 3) an environmental field camp for K-12 students where students learn to use environmental sensors to test the water, soil, and air; and 4) preparing and delivering geoscience demonstrations to tribal middle school students on global warming or climate change. Post mini-grant award, project management workshops were delivered at the 2013 AISES Leadership Summit and via webinars in 2012 and 2013 to support the student team leads and their team members in the management of their research projects. The project management training session, held at the 2013 AISES Leadership Summit, was attended by the team project advisor and a student representative from each of the 12 teams. Additionally, funded teams received ongoing mentoring in the areas of project management, outreach, and presentation/reporting skills. Research project advisors, who served as mentors, were scientists and professors in an associated STEM field at the institution of higher education where the teams are based. Additionally, AISES staff and college chapter advisors assisted the teams in their efforts to keeping their projects on track. 2011-12 AISES College Chapter Awardees University of Arizona - Mother Earth and Her Ecosystems; Research, Education, and Outreach Opportunities for Native High School Students Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute - Research and Outreach of Walatowa Geothermal Resources College of Menominee Nation - Young Keepers of the Forest Program Salish Kootenai College - The Flathead Indian Reservation School Stream Monitoring Project University of Minnesota Morris - This Weekend Rocks! University of Arkansas - Land Use Change Design Competition 2012-2013 AISES College Chapter Awardees Salish Kootenai College - SKC AISES Geo-cultural Education (SAGE) Project University of Utah - Tiered Mentoring to Promote Recruitment and Retention for American Indians in the Geosciences and Related Disciplines University of Minnesota-Twin Cities - U Rock! Purdue University - Connecting with Mother Earth Mendocino College - Coastal Geology and Inner Tidal Ecology Findings: In terms of techniques developed,AISES discovered that performing outreach and training workshops at AISES events was useful to reach undergraduate and graduate students. Utilizing the AISES network and membership as an association, AISES communicated the message that geosciences and community involvement in informal science projects in tribal communities is important and valuable.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Directorate for Geosciences (GEO)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Jill L. Karsten
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American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
United States
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