My name is Noehealani Antolin, and I am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Nevada of Las Vegas School of Public Health. My current work aims at increasing the minority representation, specifically Alaska Native and American Indian population, in STEM fields through a short-term biomedical research opportunity program.
I have learned that integrating a culturally responsive program/curriculum that relates to the communities of the students enriches learning and builds a student’s science identity. Identifying barriers that your students may face when conducting research such as limited technology, access to Wi-Fi, and access to transportation can help you develop a program that is appropriate for students. When students conduct research that is meaningful to them and their communities, so much is gained to their perspective of what science is and how they can make a difference.
Through evaluation, I learned that many students perceived a scientist as someone who conducts experiments in a laboratory setting, and many did not know of the other aspects of research (e.g., community-based research, qualitative research, exploratory research, etc.). It was important to share with our Native students the importance of research as it relates to their community. Because many of our Native students lived in rural/remote areas it was important to conduct a research project that 1) relates to their community and 2) a project that can be done individually with continuous check-ins/follow-ups via phone, email, or if accessible, Zoom. My colleagues and I had to be creative, and we came up with what we call “science in a box”. Science in a box is a project that is easily accessible, and there are many online science kits that are affordable and can be shipped to remote areas.
Here are some of the science projects I have used before:
To capture indigenous voices we must first understand who, what, where, and why those voices exists, to develop effective programs and evaluation.
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