ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Thanks to support from Bristol Bay Native Corporation, a new strategic partner of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, 54 students descended upon Anchorage for ANSEP’s May Middle School Academy. Hailing from communities across the state, from Southwest Alaska to the North Slope, these middle school students gained insight into daily life as college students and STEM professionals through the component’s hands-on, team-based activities.
Living on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus at the two-week, all-expenses-paid, residential component, students participated in an innovative curriculum designed to foster enthusiasm for STEM education at an early age. On Thursday, May 17, students put their engineering skills to the test at a balsa wood bridge build designed to test the bridges weight-bearing capacity.
Led by ANSEP staff and industry professionals, the students applied teamwork and problem-solving skills to design stable bridges using limited materials within a designated timeframe. The 54 students chosen to participate included:
Anchorage: Dashiell Morgan
King Salmon: Cord Ballantyne, Aidan Dube, Thomas Foster, Lewis Singley and Grace Stewart
Naknek: Chad Anderson Jr., Nathaniel “Uzziah” Bindon, Pete Hill, Kaeli Pulice and Bella Young
Dillingham: Morgan Allen, Laci Andrew, Jacob Belleque, Jessica Bocatch, Kiley Clouse, Liam Evans, Ellie Hink, Ethan Jenkins, Paris Johnson, Dellana Mann, EmaMichelle Nielsen, Kristian Nudlash-Barger, Jamal Romie, Raelin Roque, Jessie Sage, Charlene Savo, Benjamin Sharlow, Olivia Thames, Zoe Tilden, Jonas Tweet, David Wetter and Macey Williams
Chignik Lake: Raemie Garner and Jeremiah Isenberg
Illiamna: Isabelle Gust and Sammael Wren
Nondalton: Erica Aaberg, Karina Jeffries and Harley Trefon
Perryville: Devin Kosbruk
Pilot Point: Adin Griechen
Port Heiden: Karina Christensen, Ian Kosbruk and Nikolai Orloff
Nome: Paloma Booth
Nuiqsut: Shanae Ahtuangaruak, Christopher Bennett, Luava Hopson, Heather Napageak, Nannie Nicholls and Lydia Oyagak
Manokotak: Celine Alakayak and Kristen Lillie
Through balsa wood bridge builds, trips to the Alaska Sea Life Center, planetarium excursions and other interactive activities, the students experience real-world applications for STEM education. An added incentive ANSEP’s Middle School Academy is the computer build activity, which requires students to piece together PC computers. The computers are theirs to keep, provided they stay on track to complete Algebra 1 before high school.
“Students, especially those in rural Alaska, often think of science and engineering as abstract ideas that don’t really apply to their day-to-day lives. Our program connects the dots between STEM careers and the positive impact they make in local communities,” said ANSEP Founder and Vice Provost Dr. Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder. “Nobody understands the challenges facing rural Alaska better its residents. ANSEP is working with its strategic partners, such as Bristol Bay Native Cooperation, to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers so they will be prepared to lead Alaska into the future.”
ANSEP provides access to students from even the most remote areas of Alaska. With more than 2,500 students in its pipeline, ANSEP is creating a brighter future for Alaskan students and their communities.
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