Source: Office of Naval Research
What started as a scholarship program for one undergraduate student at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1995 now is guiding thousands of middle school students across the state down the path to bachelor’s degrees.
“We’ve got students from southeast, from Kenai area, from Galena, participating in our 12-day residential middle school academy experience, ” Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program regional director Michael Bourdukofsky said. “Today they are testing their balsa wood bridges which they spent the last two days designing and building.”
Friday marked the 25th year ANSEP has provided access to higher quality education for Alaska students. The bridge project, which took about two days for most students, is one of many that teaches students the importance of learning new skills.
Read the full article here.
The Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program celebrated and recognized seven students from Anchorage on their accomplishments and being the first graduates from its full-time Acceleration Academy. These students, in
Kimberly Hoeppner keeps children’s heads in the clouds. The meteorologist from the National Weather Service was teaching girls about clouds and more weather phenomena on Saturday.
The girls, in kindergarten through 12th grade, spent the day at the University of Alaska Anchorage getting a hands-on introduction to science.
“Science and technology really are the careers of the future,” Girls Scouts of Alaska CEO Sue Perles said, “and we know women are underrepresented in these fields and we want girls to feel welcome. We want girls to know they can do whatever it is they want to do.”
Women in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) jobs often experience more discrimination and harassment in the workplace than their males counterparts. A 2018 report from the Pew Research Center states that gender was seen as an impediment rather than an advantage to career success.
The report points to an interactive data set showing the statistics of underrepresented women and minorities in tech companies created by the Wall Street Journal in 2016. Big-name companies are listed, including Microsoft with only 17 percent women of its nearly 60,000 employees in 2015.
UAA’s chancellor Dr. Cathy Sandeen said she hopes the Saturday event recruits the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.
“Where we can have a lot of young women come to our campus, and get inspired, and think about going into those fields. That’s the future, they’re the future students of UAA,” Sandeen said.
In another session, girls learned how light affects the colors we see, as part of their introduction to chromatography. Markers and water helped them learn how the components react to each other.
“I never thought that colors with just a bit of water would mix like that. I think it’s really pretty especially with how my galaxy turned out,” said a young girl named Trianna.
According to another article from the Pew Research Center, women have made gains since 1990 in the life sciences and math occupations. In both, women make up around 46 percent of the work force.
With hard work and women scientists like Hoeppner to set the example, girls like Trianna can start to envision a future for themselves in STEM.
Providing early research experiences and creating supportive campus environments are among the promising and intentional strategies outlined in a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine focused on the impact and role of minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in producing graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The academy’s report “Minority-Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce” reaffirms the relevance of MSIs and notes an urgent need to invest in the institutions to not only graduate and prepare MSI students for in-demand STEM careers, but also to sustain and enhance the nation’s economic prosperity, global competitiveness and national security, according to committee members sponsoring the report.
“This country can’t strengthen the STEM pipeline and bring more people into it without engaging the institutions where the students actually are,” said Dr. Kent McGuire, co-chair of the Committee on Closing the Equity Gap: Securing Our STEM Education and Workforce Readiness Infrastructure in the Nation’s Minority-Serving Institutions. “The conversation isn’t about, ‘Well, we can’t work with these schools because they don’t have this or they don’t have that.’ The conversation has to be, ‘We won’t actually be competitive internationally if we don’t help these schools do well what it is they do.’”
McGuire, who is also program director of education at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, added that, among other things, the report speaks to the variation among MSIs in how they serve students and also the challenges they face collectively and individually. America’s nearly 700 two- and four-year MSIs include historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs).
Read the full article here. It also mentions the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) at the University of Alaska Anchorage that embodies the strategies in the report by targeting students earlier in the pipeline – as early as sixth grade – and supporting and nurturing their intellectual growth and interest in STEM fields as they matriculate through their postsecondary education.