Pre-College Programs

The focus of the Pre-College Program is “Awareness and Retention.” AISES engages in a multitude of programs and events that aim to ensure students are given exposure to first-rate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs and events. These experiences and opportunities support students in discovering, pursuing, and sustaining their interest in STEM as they prepare for their college careers and beyond.

The Pre-College Program supports early childhood through high school education and students in STEM studies through teacher training, regional science bowls, science fairs, leadership development, mentorship, scholarships, internships and other programming designed to support students and their families.

Pre-College Programs

The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED), Division of Energy and Mineral Development (DEMD),  in partnership with the American Indians and Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is hosting the Second Annual Energy Challenge for American Indian and Alaska Native youth in grades 9-12. The Energy Challenge is an energy-specific science fair designed to engage and encourage high school students to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education through a creative, hands-on, engineering product development design process. The teams endure a rigorous scoring system and compete against a multitude of other impressive teams. The top two teams are awarded a trip to Washington, D.C. to receive their awards, present their projects to Indian Affairs leadership, and participate in educational activities during their stay in our nation’s capital. This year’s top two teams were one person teams. 

2017 Energy Challenge Grand Prize Winners:


  • Jake Keli’I Uyechi (Native Hawaiian)
    Analyzing Bacteria in Microbial Fuel Cell Energy Generation
    11th Grade, HI

    His project focused on the problem of high electricity costs in Hawai’i. Energy costs in Hawai’i are more than twice that of the continental U.S. Jake designed and tested the best methods for taro farmers to use mud directly from the taro patches to provide a sustainable source of energy. He used Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) and found what design and conditions work best for generating electricity.

  • Kelly Charley (Navajo)
    Utilizing Solar Technologies to Heat a Traditional Home
    12th Grade, AZ

    Her project addresses the unique energy needs of the over 20,000 Navajo people over the age of 60 living on the reservation.  For this project, Kelly built upon 3 years of previous research and design. She set out to create a solar heating system that could generate the highest possible temperatures.  Her prototype design surpassed her initial goal, heating water to over 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.44 Celsius).  She continues to refine the design so it can be more practical for in-home use.    

Congratulations to this year’s teams for all their hard work and make sure to enter in next year’s Energy Challenge!


For questions about the Energy Challenge you may contact Kyle Coulon at or call 720-552-6123 (ext. 108).

About Our Partner, the DEMD

The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED), Division of Energy and Mineral Development (DEMD) office is the primary office responsible for fulfilling Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs' trust responsibility to Indian Tribes and allottees concerning the development of their conventional energy, renewable energy and mineral resources on Trust lands.  DEMD is the only office within the Federal government with the primary responsibility of assisting Indian mineral owners assess, identify, and promote their energy and mineral resources and insuring that the Indian communities and individual Indians realize a maximum revenue stream from the development of their vast Trust resources.  While other DOI agencies have some limited responsibilities in Indian energy and mineral development, the Tribe (or allottee) is not their main client as it is with DEMD.   DEMD takes a much stronger role as the lead agency providing advice and financial support to Indians.  

The development of energy resources on Indian lands has helped to place the United States on the path to a more secure energy future, while significantly impacting the economic health of many Indian communities.  While the progress has been substantial there remains much to do, as historically Indian lands still remain under-developed relative to surrounding non-Indian lands.  Recognizing the opportunities that exist for Indians, DEMD’s sole purpose is to provide technical advice, economic advice and support services to assist Tribes in achieving the maximum economic self-sufficiency by creating sustainable economic benefit through the environmentally sound development of their energy and mineral resources.  One portion of this effort is to develop tribal managerial, organization and technical capacity needed to maximize the economic impact of energy resource development on Indian land.

Visit the DEMD online at:

National American Indian Virtual Science and Engineering Fair

AISES is hosting its fourth virtual science and engineering fair this spring!  The National American Indian Virtual Science and Engineering Fair (NAIVSEF) is a Society for Science and the Public (SSP) affiliated science fair and as such is part of the larger SSP fair network. The NAIVSEF differs from other SSP-affiliated fairs in that it is a virtual science fair. Unlike live fairs, virtual fairs do not require travel as the fair and judging are conducted online and via teleconference calls. 

AISES awards cash prizes to senior and junior division winners and also pays the travel and registration fees for the Senior Division Grand Award winners and their sponsors to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Los Angeles, CA, May 14–19, 2017).

For more information on the 2017 NAIVSEF visit:

2017 NAIVSEF Winners

Grand Award Winners

  • 1st Place: Nizhoni Talles
  • Thin-panel, Cylinder Arrayed, Solar Water Heater
  • Navajo, 12th Grade, NM
  • 2nd Place: Anna Quinlan
  • A Technology Assisted Ketone Detecting Patch for the Noninvasive Detection of Type 1 Diabetes
  • Cherokee Nation, 10th Grade, CA 
  • Won a Special Award from the Qatar Foundation
  • Runner-up: Randa Shaw
  • Mitigating Ocean Noise Pollution
  • Choctaw, 10th Grade, FL

Senior Division – Life Sciences

  • 1st Place: Anna Quinlan ($350)
  • A Technology Assisted Ketone Detecting Patch for the Noninvasive Detection of Type 1 Diabetes
  • Cherokee Nation, 10th Grade, CA 
  • 2nd Place: Nolan Arkansas ($250)
  • How Many Crickets Does it Take to Change Modern Medicine?
  • 11th Grade, NC
  • 3rd Place: Lauren John, Ashton Taylor, & Kelly Cooke ($150)
  • A Study of Antiboitic Resistance in Residential Bacteria Extracted from Selected Human Body Sites 
  • 9th Grade, OK

Senior Division – Engineering and Mathematics

  • 1st Place: Nizhoni Talles ($350)
  • Thin-panel, Cylinder Arrayed, Solar Water Heater
  • Navajo, 12th Grade, NM
  • 2nd Place:  Randa Shaw ($250)
  • Mitigating Ocean Noise Pollution
  • Choctaw, 10th Grade, FL
  • 3rd Place:  Kelly Charley ($150)
  • Utilizing Solar Technologies to Heat a Traditional Home
  • Navajo, 12th Grade, NM

Junior Division Winners

  • 1st Place: Pery Affias and Maya Fairbanks ($200)
  • What Effect do Salinity Levels have on Romaine Lettuce Growth using Hydroponics?
  • 8th Grade, MN
  • 2nd Place: Ahna Anderson ($175)
  • What Effect Does DISC Peronsality Grouping have on Interactive Technology Learning Success?
  • 8th Grade, MN
  • 3rd Place: Marielle Gomez ($125)
  • River Water Impacts on Radish Seed Root Growth
  • Taos Pueblo, 6th Grade, NM 

Power-Up Workshops 

What’s a Power Up Workshop?

Power Up workshops are designed to boost student engagement in science fairs and to improve the quality and quantity of science fair research and projects entered at the local, national, and international level. At these workshops, students, and educators can gain new knowledge to bring back to their community, learn about new ways to conduct scientific research, and participate in quality programs that are designed to drive student success in STEM.  The curriculum utilizes a 28-page Power Up workbook developed by AISES.  Workshops are interactive, follow the workbook, and utilize audio-visual aids, such as slideshows, flipcharts and small group activities. 

The target audience, for these ½ day workshops, is middle and high school students (grades 5 through 12) and their educators.  Attendance at Power Up Workshops typically consists of educators, parents, and students and can range from 25 to 100 plus individuals, depending upon the community size, number of schools in the region, venue size, and general interest. 

These workshops are a great way to introduce your students to science fairs and to learn what it takes as an educator to get your students ready to participate in local and regional science fairs, or even, the NAIVSEF!  National American Indian Virtual Science and Engineering Fair info can be found online at:  Unlike other fairs, your students do not have to travel to participate in the NAIVSEF!


In 2010, AISES staff and a select group of educators and subject matter experts were able to produce the first POWER UP Science Fair Manual and educational workshop that focused on the scientific method, effective project presentations, proper research techniques and information on how to complete the complicated paperwork that is required to produce successful science fair projects.

AISES has presented the manual to four out of its seven regions with thrilling success. More than 150 students and 50 teachers, representing over 25 tribal nations and communities have attended these workshops. Over 85% of the students reported that the POWER UP Science Fair Manual and workshop was helpful. In addition, students reported that they plan to utilize what they had learned for the creation of their own science fair projects at the AISES National American Indian Science and Engineering Fair in addition to other community or state science fairs. (Currently, the AISES fair is now offered as a virtual fair, but there are plenty of “live” fairs throughout the country for high schoolers and middle schoolers!)

Host a Power Up Workshop This Spring!

We’ll come to your community!  AISES has funding from a number of generous sponsors to provide Power Up Workshops across the country.  We anticipate conducting up to 8 workshops this winter/spring 2015.  Interested schools and community organizations need to contact AISES (info provided below) to start the process.  Funders for this year’s Power Up workshops include the United States Department of Energy, Toyota USA Foundation, and Motorola Foundation.

What’s required to Host?

We try to make it as easy and cost-free as possible.  First, host communities/schools need to have or serve a significant Native American/Native Alaskan student population.  Schools or organizations can be on- or off-reservation communities, urban or rural.  All you need to do is be willing to provide a venue large enough for the anticipated students and/or educators with appropriate seating (e.g. classroom, school auditorium, community building, etc.) and help us get the word out.

AISES will provide the rest of the programming at no cost (manuals, presentation materials, presenter).  The workshops can be held during teacher in-service days at schools, in the evening, afterschool, during school, or on a weekend day.  The session could even be presented as part of another event you are already offering!

Process:  Basically the process is: 

  1. AISES contacts communities that respond to this article.
  2. AISES and community work to find and secure a suitable space for the workshop.
  3. Dates are selected.
  4. Logistics are arranged.
  5. AISES and the community promote the workshop event.
  6. Workshop is held and brief (we mean brief) evaluations collected.
  7. Evaluations are analyzed (we do this).

How do I start the process?

If you are an authorized individual from a school or community, please send an email to Kathy DeerInWater, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Research at​, indicating your interest, number and types of potential attendees you expect to have in attendance, your community location, possible sites for holding the event, and some desirable dates. You may also view the Power Up Science Fair Manual.

AISES’ New VEX Robotics Program Launches - Assistance Now Available!

Want to get your students engaged in STEM?  In robotics?  Here’s your chance!  AISES is launching a pilot program designed to bring VEX Robotics to Native schools and communities this fall and spring.   

Why Robotics?

Instilling in Native American youth the love of learning about STEM fields helps put them on a path toward academic achievement, degree attainment and ability to contribute productively to their communities. Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy says that robotics is the single best integrator of science, technology, engineering and math. Learning to work in the field of robotics at a young age can help to spur Native youth toward achievements in STEM and securing a secondary (and higher education) degree. Plus, working with robots has a way of circumventing the math anxiety that some children have learned.

Native American students participating in and preparing for a robotics competition learn critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, collaboration and teamwork. Student teams build their own robot, program it, test it, adjust it, and design and build extra components such as delivery systems. Teachers serve as resources and coaches, but the youth do the work of creating a unique robot they hope will be the best of its kind.

Students with vast potential that cannot be sufficiently tapped by classroom work need modes of learning that lie outside of the classroom, that hitch hands, minds and spirit of competition to making something real and trying to make it the best its kind. For these students, robotics can be the inspiration they need, linking academic theory to a fun, real-world project. The robotics theme keeps these “academic athletes” focused all year on learning the lessons necessary to be competitive.

In addition, teachers learn how to teach and coach robotics-relevant subjects. They will be linked to and participate in educational resources that are new to them and to experienced coaches (through RECF and/or AISES’ chapter members who are Native American professionals in STEM) who will facilitate their integration of new materials in their classroom.                  

With generous funding and support from GM Foundation, Northrop Grumman, Motorola Solutions Foundation, and the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, AISES will be able to provide assistance to schools and community organizations interested in starting up new Robotics programming for their youth. 

If you are interested in bringing robotics to your school, please contact Kathy DeerInWater, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Research at​ or by calling 720.552.6123.   Support available includes financial assistance with teacher training, teacher stipends, technical assistance, and equipment assistance, with a funding maximum of $6,500 per school.  While this is a national program, we do have funds earmarked for an Oregon school team; schools from other states are encouraged to apply.

Science Bowl 

AISES has received support for a regional science bowl, which will also allow us to capitalize on and draw from the amazing strength and leadership AISES enjoys with its professional chapters. Known now as the SUN Project and made possible by the Department of Energy, AISES will be conducting outreach to urban Native students in STEM. With the support of our Professional Chapters and other partners, the SUN Project will coach and support three middle school science teams to compete in the local competitions in these areas.

The Science Bowl is an academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in all areas of math and science. Students will be quizzed in a fast paced question-and-answer format similar to that of a popular TV quiz show.  Competing teams will be composed of four to five students and a teacher who serves as an advisor and coach.

Where and When are Regional Science Bowls Held? Regionals run from February to late March as the National Science Bowl which they feed into is held April 30-May 4, 2015.  NOTE:  Registration deadlines and competition dates vary from state to state, and some states have more than one regional competition.  Also, regional science bowls in one state may also serve neighboring states that do not have their own science bowl.  You can check out the registration deadlines and competition dates deadlines for your state here.  

What’s Expected?  The Professional Chapter will identify and recruit teams from schools serving Native American youth in their region.  There may be more than one team from a particular school.  The goal is 3 teams of four students plus one alternate per region.  Teams must be middle school students and must have at least one Native American member each.  Teams must be formed in compliance with NSB Regulations.  Team members must be from the same school and in grades 6-8 (see regulations for age requirements and other specifics). 

Coaches will be chapter members who meet with students and their teacher(s) at their school one to two times per week for 60 to 90 minutes to explain what a science bowl is and the rules and to prepare teams for competition.  Coaching Resources such as sample questions, strategies for success, and rules can be found online.  

Science Bowl Subjects:  Biology and Chemistry, Math and Physics, Earth and Space Science, and Energy and General Science.

Financial Assistance:  Each Professional Chapter will receive financial assistance to help it sponsor and coach three (3) middle school science bowl teams).  Financial assistance will total $6,400.00 for each of the two chapters that are to be selected.  The suggested budget per chapter:

  • $300: for event registration for 3 teams per region, $100 per team
  • $5,025: per region to cover costs associated with coaching all teams (space, refreshments, mileage reimbursements for coaches, t-shirts for students, etc.)
  • $75: AISES memberships for 15 students
  • $1,000: travel assistance to enable the teams per region to attend regional science bowl

Interested?  Interested Professional Chapters may contact Kathy DeerInWater, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Research at or by calling 720.552.6123.

Interested schools/teachers should reach out to the AISES Professional Chapter in their region and encourage them to participate in the SUN Projector contact Kathy DeerInWater (see above).  Professional Chapters and their contact info can be found here.  Chapters are located in the following states:  Alaska, Arizona, California, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Washington, DC., Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

Application Deadline:  February 15 or sooner (depends on your regional science bowl calendar)!  

AISES National Conference 

Held annually since 1978, the AISES National Conference is a one-of-a-kind, three-day event convening high school juniors and seniors, college and graduate students, teachers, workforce professionals, corporate partners, and all members of the “AISES family.”  The AISES National conference has become the premier event for Native American Science, Engineering & Math (STEM) professionals and students attracting over 1,600 attendees form across the country

The AISES 2017 National Conference will be in Denver, CO, September 21 – 23, 2017. For the latest information on the AISES National Conference click here.  To ensure you receive notification updates about the upcoming National Conference, please be sure you sign-up for informational updates and our monthly newsletter. 

Here are nine reasons why this is a “must-do” event.

  1. Networking. Offering cutting-edge thought on important current STEM issues, excellent career resources, and traditional cultural activities, the AISES National Conference is unlike any other STEM conference you’ll attend.
  2. Community. With 1,800 participants in 2010, there is something of a "reunion" quality to the AISES National Conference, where even newcomers feel they are coming into a "family" setting, and where our deep-seated commitment to personal relationships can be bolstered.
  3. Deeper Discovery. The conference provides thought-provoking and illuminating learning through concurrent sessions and special professional development workshops.
  4. Employment.   AISES' National Conference offers the largest career fair in Indian Country, with many companies and agencies hiring on the spot, and others looking to identify talent for future recruitment.
  5. Educational Resources. In addition to the professional development tracks and workshops, AISES’ National Conference opportunities to showcase academic research and study as well as connections to graduate, internship, fellowship and career opportunity.
  6. Indigenous and Elder Wisdom. Offering blessings, insights, and wisdom throughout the event, AISES’ National Conference offers a unique perspective on ways tradition and STEM can be effectively bridged in the 21st century. Our Council of Elders helps remind us where we come from and what we need to hold onto in order to live a life that is not just meaningful, but full of meaning.
  7. Welcoming Atmosphere. The AISES conference offers a sense of community and "family" that can sustain your spirit as many of us venture far from our communities to navigate our educational and career paths.
  8. Real-Time. Nothing beats the face-to-face value of conference attendance, not only for networking and mentoring, but also when it comes to the fun and affirmation of the social events, awards ceremonies, and traditional events such as the Powwow.
  9. Nice Price. Take a look at other conference registration fees and you'll find that AISES' National Conference is a good deal.
  10. Inspiration. The presence of so many young Natives, educators, and professionals gathered for good purpose is uplifting, sustaining, and joyous.

AISES Regional Conferences 

AISES’ Regional Conferences take place every spring and provide an opportunity for AISES College and Professional Chapters to gather and share information, form partnerships, and to network with each other and with selected presenters and partners.

Each regional conference has a number of informative sessions and activities for both college and high school students. Among the activities provided are mini career fairs, poster presentations, and engineering competitions. AISES’ student representatives and the host chapters for the following year are selected at the regional conferences.

Local and national professionals within a variety of fields provide workshops, seminars, and discussion groups about a wide variety of topics. Generally, each Regional Conference host develops a theme or focus area for the Regional Conference (environmental, bridging native cultures with science, etc.).

The host chapter for the following spring’s regional conference is determined during the Regional Conference held each spring.

Chapters interested in hosting the regional conference indicate their interest in hosting and make a verbal presentation regarding their resources, planning, and ability to host the conference. Each college chapter in "Good Standing" is allowed one vote; the majority of votes determines the location of the regional conference.  

Visit the events section to find upcoming Regional Conferences near you. 



AISES offers a universe of opportunities to students! Our students choose to move fiercely forward in their educational journeys by learning and acquiring new skills that will help them in meeting the ever-changing STEM needs of our communities.

At AISES, we invest more than just scholarship support into our students; we are investing confidence, trust and a large community of support and encouragement for our students. Year after year, our AISES scholars bring potential and limitless possibilities for the future of STEM, each working towards advancing his or her opportunities in STEM career fields.

Among our current and past scholarship programs, sponsors have included Chevron, Boeing, Intel, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Navy Civilian Careers and many others. Information for scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year is now available. View our current scholarships.


The AISES Internship Program provides students with applied work experience and an opportunity to explore career options. Placing students in 10-week summer positions with partner agencies, the program also promotes advanced study to the graduate level and assists students in developing professional networks. Interns are provided with round-trip airfare or mileage to internship site, a weekly stipend, dormitory lodging and a local transportation allowance.

In 2013, internship opportunities included: ASRC Federal Holding Company, USDA FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service), Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Census, U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

View our current internships.