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Shooting for the Stars Robotics Program Prepares Native American Students for Science, Tech, Engineering, Math Careers

NSF Award:

Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power  (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)

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Native American students in Minnesota are learning physics and developing critical skills in mathematical thinking, problem solving and computer programming, thanks to robotics courses offered through the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP).

The University of Minnesota, CCEFP's lead institution, sponsors Shooting for the Stars, an education outreach program that enables students to discover robotics as an after-school activity and at certain schools as an elective class.

The robotics programs is not only fun and engaging, it also exposes students to the skills needed in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) careers. As students participate in hands-on construction engineering, they also learn how to work in teams.

CCEFP's robotics program is part of a larger set of initiatives in northern Minnesota known as gidakiimanaaniwigamig--"Our Earth Lodge" in the Anishinaabe language. The "gidda" program is designed to engage Native American students in active study as they work towards high school graduation and prepare for postsecondary education in STEM areas. Other K-12 gidaa activities sponsored by the Center include science fairs and summer camps.

In addition, the center contributes to the programmatic, course content and financial support of projects under the gidaa umbrella. These courses utilize teaching resources such as LegoR We-do Webots, Lego NXT Kits, VEX Kits and TetrixR, and are led by local teachers who have become subject matter experts.

Seeking additional ways to motivate students towards STEM fields, key CCEFF partner Albrook School is piloting a robotics class for inclusion in its curriculum and is developing an agreement with the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College that will enable students to earn college course credit for completing the course. In complementary efforts, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College has been offering a robotics course for two years and is creating a pre-engineering program.

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  • learning robotics
Native American students engaged with other K-12 students in building a robot through the CCEFP ERC's Robotics Program.
CCEFP

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