Participants and Activities
The conference will be open to all interested participants, limited only by space. However, we will particularly encourage participation by researchers in the geosciences; faculty and staff from universities, tribal, and other colleges; elders and community leaders; education and evaluation researchers; K-12 teachers; professionals from the informal education community; and Native American K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students. In addition to the workshops outlined above, the conference will have the following strands:
Topics in Geosciences Research Affecting Indigenous Communities: Native elders will be encouraged to lead talking circles on issues related to the geosciences that are impacting their community and promote new research on crucial issues. Researchers will be encouraged to organize talking circles on their research as it relates to native communities and research they have done in collaboration with native communities or informed by traditional science knowledge.
Topics in Education and Evaluation Related to Native American Geoscience and STEM Learning: Researchers and educators will be able to organize talking circles and hold workshops related to recent research and best practices promoting excellence in Native STEM learning and program evaluation.
Collaboration-Building Opportunities for All Participants: Researchers, teachers, community leaders, elders, and students will be encouraged to form teams and propose interdisciplinary sessions together to specifically address the issue of bridging communities and promoting new collaborations.
Education and Research Opportunity Fair: Programs that offer education and research opportunities for K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students will have the opportunity to share information about their program with student participants at a special poster session. The conference will be held in spring 2012 and programs who have summer 2012 research experiences to offer will be encouraged to save spaces for applications from GA participants.
New Curriculum and Activity Demonstrations: Curriculum and educational activity developers will be given the opportunity to showcase their educational products in this session, where teachers, students, faculty, and other participants will be encouraged to work in groups to try out and give feedback on these new teaching methods. Successful informal education programs will also be able to propose workshops for sharing best practices.
Research poster session: All participants will have the chance to share their research in this poster session. We expect to have middle- and high-school science fair posters, as well as posters highlighting the latest research by faculty and university students.
As at the first Geoscience Alliance meeting, every effort will be made to promote interaction throughout the conference by different groups (teachers with faculty, students with elders, elders with teachers, researchers with students) by conscious planning that i.e., time for researchers to talk about successful strategies to involve Native students in their research and teachers to talk about effective teaching methods, and additional time for researchers and teachers and to talk with one another.
The majority (~95%) of the budget for this proposed grant consists of participant expenses, which will be used to promote attendance by students, teachers, elders, community participants, and faculty from
institutions without travel funding. A short application will be required to receive travel funding. In addition, the Minnesota Northstar STEM Alliance (an NSF-funded Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) will be involved in the conference planning. A major initiative of the Northstar STEM Alliance is the giiwed’anang (Northstar) undergraduate AISES Alliance, which unites all of the AISES chapters in the state of Minnesota, promotes and funds opportunities through the Northstar STEM alliance, and promotes the strength of new and fledgling undergraduate American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) chapters at Minnesota colleges and universities. Students in giiwed’anang will be encouraged to attend the GA conference and some funding will be provided by the Northstar STEM alliance. Conference organizer Dalbotten is a giiwed’anang advisor, which will ensure collaboration with those organizations. Salish Kootenai College has also recently begun an AISES chapter, with support and mentoring from the giiwed’anang AISES alliance. It now has a chapter 30 strong, advised by GA members Antony Berthelote (faculty advisor) and Ashley Marks (chapter president). These Salish Kootenai students will be encouraged to attend all conference events as the timing for the event is during the SKC Spring Break when facilities, students, and faculty are most available. Purdue University has several Native graduate students working in Earth and Environmental science fields of research. These students will also be encouraged to attend and assume leadership roles in presenting their research and leading talking circles. Planners will also reach out to the American Indian/Alaska Native Working Group on Climate change and invite students and faculty from this group to participate.