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BOULDER, Colo., November 30, 2017 – The Board of Directors of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation (CPF) awarded the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) a grant for $71,793.00 in their fall 2017 grant cycle. The purpose of the grant is to increase interest and competency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The grant specifically funds AISES to develop and implement STEM and Computer Science programming with students of Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) in Cherokee, North Carolina.
In collaboration with the Qualla Education Council, AISES identified computer science as an area of interest for CCS. Given the CPF’s commitment to education and economic development on the Qualla boundary, AISES believes computer science is one of the most important fields for Native youth to pursue as it is now an integral part of all STEM fields and is one of the fastest growing job markets.
AISES has partnered with the toy company Sphero to bring their educational spherical robot, SPRK+ to Native American-serving K-12 schools across the United States. From this specific program, AISES will develop STEM and Computer Science (STEM+C) curriculum using Sphero, informed by CCS staff and educators, with lessons incorporating Cherokee culture and values.
Funding from CPF will help to build the STEM+C capacity of CCS as all equipment will remain with CCS and teachers will receive Sphero training to incorporate Sphero into their STEM curriculum. With CPF funds, AISES sent five CCS teachers and ten CCS high school students to the 2017 AISES National Conference in Denver, CO. Teachers participated in professional development sessions and STEM educational experiences for K-12 students during STEM Day, a pre-conference event specifically designed for Pre-College students. The High School students also attend STEM Day, Pre-College sessions ranging from college and career exploration to scholarship opportunities, student research presentations, and a variety of social and cultural events.
“AISES leadership in computer science programming to middle and high school students is forward-looking when using the Sphero technology,” said Sarah EchoHawk, AISES CEO. “Computer science is driving innovation in STEM disciplines and revolutionizing student engagement in STEM. All students - particularly Native students - need to understand the role of computation and computational thinking to be successful. Too few Native students, however, have the opportunity to gain these understandings and skills in or outside of middle and high school.”
This grant complements AISES newest program SPRK-ing Interest in Computer Science, funded by General Motors Foundation, Motorola Solutions Foundation, and the Salt River Project.
About the American Indian Science and Engineering Society
AISES is a national, Native American nonprofit whose mission is to substantially increase the representation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations and other indigenous peoples of North America in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies and careers. Founded in 1977, with a rapidly expanding membership of more than 4,000 individual members, AISES sustains 190 chartered college and university chapters, 15 professional chapters, and 158 affiliated K-12 schools supporting over 55,000 students. AISES has awarded over $10.3 million in academic scholarships to over 5,000 American Indian STEM students. Through scholarships and internships, workforce development and career resources, national and regional conferences, science fairs, leadership development and other STEM focused programming, AISES is the leader in STEM opportunities for indigenous people of North America.