KBOCC Bridges the STEM Pipeline for local educators and Pre-K to 5th grade students through new grant program
The Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC) recently established an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Outreach Department to focus on connecting teachers and students to the pipeline of STEM Education. The ECE STEM Outreach Department has an initiative to provide teachers with culturally rich and STEM-u-lating trainings for educators as well as classroom workshops for students Pre-K to 5th grade.
This project is supported by a grant awarded to the KBOCC by the American Indian College Fund’s “For the Wisdom of the Children: Strengthening the Teacher of Color Pipeline.” For the Wisdom of the Children ECE STEM Initiative is generously funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Grant #P0131181) and the community-based programming is in part supported by supplemental funding provided by the Toyota Motor Company.
The teacher education program has an initiative to reach at least 100 teachers in the Upper Peninsula over a two year time period. The mission overall is to train educators to use Native American traditional techniques to instill history, culture, and educational value into our future youth, starting at the preschool level. There are several workshops planned in the tri-county area with the hopes to reach and train families, classroom educators, and teacher trainers.
The first series of workshops, titled Math thru Art, were held in December 2018. Dennis White from the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College reservation provided two presentations for area educators. The first presentation was hosted at the KBOCC L’Anse campus on Thursday, December 6th 6pm - 7:30pm. The second presentation was an all day professional development workshop. This event was hosted at the Copper Country ISD in Hancock, Michigan on Friday, December 7th, 9am - 3pm.
Teacher educators from the tri-county area, joined Mr. White as he demonstrated how to inspire a cultural connection to math through art in nature in a classroom setting. "If we can see a pattern to it, we can understand it. There is such an elegance in mathematics that we sometimes forget that”. Dressed in traditional native regalia, Mr. White engaged teachers in hands-on learning opportunities throughout the days event. Participants, in small group settings, learned skills such as using a self made loom for weaving patterns, how to create the round braid using fabric materials, but most importantly educators were inspired to create a learning environment outside of the traditional linear teaching techniques.
One participant stated,“I will be implementing much of this in my classroom! I am brimming with ideas.”
Over the next two years, the KBOCC ECE STEM Outreach Department will host a series of workshops for both students and educators to help bridge the pipeline of STEM from Pre-K to 5th grade. Many workshops will be in collaboration with area organizations and institutions such as Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech) Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, Michigan Tech College of Science and Arts, Copper Country ISD, and the MiSTEM Network.
Last week, this collaborative effort resulted in a Math Circle Road Show, in which staff from KBOCC ECE STEM, Michigan Tech, and CCISD visited every 2nd grade - 5th grade classroom in Baraga and L’Anse. This road show was an effort to build momentum and excitement in local students for the March Math Circle which will take place at the KBOCC Baraga Campus on March 13th 3pm - 4:30pm.
The KBOCC ECE STEM Outreach department will be hosting two events for area families in the near future. All events are free and open to the community. Please see individual events for registration information and details or visit our website www.KBOCC-ECESTEM.com