To address the issue of low science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) proficiency on the reservation and increase exposure to STEM opportunities, Oglala Lakota College and the American Honda Foundation have partnered on the Lakota Star Knowledge Project. The program provides STEM curriculum, research and outreach to kindergarten through twelfth-grade Native American youth on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. A new Honda Community Partners Spotlight video about the program can be seen at: youtube.com/watch?v=Akmr4zTkrow&feature=youtu.be.
The Lakota Star Knowledge Project was designed to increase students’ STEM knowledge while helping to preserve their native history and culture. With an emphasis on astronomy, the program uses a portable Starlab planetarium to make STEM more relatable and accessible to youth. The Starlab serves as a backdrop to learn the Lakota cosmology, with community elders and spiritual leaders delivering oral tradition, storytelling, demonstrations and field research.
“By combining the Lakota culture with Western science, we’ve developed a curriculum that brings STEM education and activities to reservation schools,” said Michelle Salvatore, Science Engineering Mathematics Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) Director at Oglala Lakota College. “It’s important that we introduce students to STEM at an early age to stimulate interest, encourage career aspirations and open their minds to possibilities in higher education.”
“The Lakota Star Knowledge Project is an essential part of the educational development of Pine Ridge youth,” said Alexandra Warnier, manager, American Honda Foundation. “Due to the limited resources on the reservation, these students would have little exposure to STEM concepts without this program.”
For more information about Oglala Lakota College and its STEM outreach programs, visit http://www.olc.edu/departments/ms-tech/outreach/semaa.htm.