Encouraging rural and Native American students to participate in interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences
This NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (NSF S-STEM) project will increase the number of academically talented, economically disadvantaged students who graduate with interdisciplinary degrees in Environmental Sciences (ES) at the University of Minnesota-Morris (UMM). The project will include 20 scholars majoring in ES or Geology, Chemistry/Biochemistry, or Physics majors with an ES emphasis. Student success will be fostered through a well-established academic support program, a dedicated Multi-ethnic Resource staff, academic advising, and peer mentoring. The project is grounded in the needs of the local and regional community and should help to increase the participation of Native Americans in the pursuit and attainment of STEM degrees. The project will address the national need to increase significantly the number of American scientists with interdisciplinary training.
The project will follow the research-based recommendations of the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science 2009-2013 Strategic Plan by focusing on transitions to college life that are critical to the development of underrepresented students and important for the development of all students. Therefore, it will include (a) active faculty mentoring starting with pre-college registration and encouraged participation in the NSF-NSF IUSE supported summer bridge , (b) cohort activities (shared curriculum, filed trips, and a learning community), and (c) summer research and professional travel opportunities among others. Formative and summative evaluation will consist of surveys of students' perceptions of the project activities and an analysis of the program outcomes and their impact of those programs on UMM. Dissemination of the results of evaluation and information about the project in general, will be done at national (American Chemical Society (ACS)) and regional (Midwestern Association of Chemistry Teachers in Liberal Arts Colleges and Great Lakes ACS) conferences and meetings. The work will be submitted to the Journal of Research in Rural Education and the Journal of American Indian Education. Moreover, a story suggestion about all University of Minnesota-Morris NSF projects (NSF S-STEM, REU, and NSF IUSE) will be submitted to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society "Winds of Change Magazine."