My name is Jessica Anstead and I recently received my Bachelors of Science in Secondary Science Education at NC State this spring. Aside from walking across the stage this past semester, I also am excited about the momentous work I have done this year.
This school year I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Susan Faircloth and Dr. Ryan Emanuel creating and implementing programs targeted toward Native/Indigenous youth. These programs were designed to build analogous connections between Native culture and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as well as investigating environmental issues prominent in Native communities.
One of the many programs created included a “Build an Animal Cell Drum” workshop, which I did with the high school youth in my tribal community. In this workshop, students, with careful instructions, created a model of an animal cell using a hand drum. Each organelle on the “cell” had a connection to Native culture in reference to its function. The aim of this workshop was for these students to have another avenue to comprehend cell structure and function using examples that were close to home.
This program and a plethora of other programs I developed this year will be placed in a catalog and will available to the Native American Student Association (NASA) and American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) chapters at NC State for outreach programs with the Wake County Indian Education program and within tribal communities across North Carolina. It is my hope that these chapters take advantage of these readily prepared programs to draw the interest in Native/Indigenous youth in STEM and higher education.
The experience I have had this year has been the opportunity of a lifetime. It is evident that I am passionate about education, but I am also passionate about the advancement of Native peoples. Statistically speaking, Native American youth are less likely to attend a post-secondary institute and are underrepresented in the STEM workforce. It is my aim that with these programs, Native/Indigenous students will gain interest in pursuing higher education and careers in STEM. I also hope that with these programs, the Native community as a whole will begin to make better environmental choices to protect Mother Earth.
As I wrap up the summer with the final touches on the program catalog, I hope to continue my interest in bridging culture and content when I am considering pursuing a Master’s in Education. As for now, I am gearing up to teach eager high school students Science! I thank Dr. Emanuel and Dr. Faircloth for supporting my ideas this semester and for this amazing experience!
- Jessica Anstead
NC State Spring Semester '15