2009 Annual Science Report

Montana State University Reporting  |  JUL 2008 – AUG 2009

EPO Activity: Native Astrobiology Program

Project Progress

ABRC has partnered with the Native Astrobiology Program (NAP) of University of Montana-Missoula to do outreach to Native American students. Teachers often consider Native American students shy or quiet in school. Researchers have discovered that Native students tend to favor a “watch then do” or “listen then do” strategy for learning versus a “trial and error” method. Using an interactive astrobiology curriculum set up by the ABRC, NAP hosted several elementary Native American classrooms at the SpectrUm Museum at the University of Montana, as well as traveled to two local reservations. Programs were lead by graduate student Meredith Berthelson of NAP and Rebecca Sporman of SpectrUm, who used hands-on curriculum to enhance interest in the math and science fields among Native American students. We also implemented astrobiology modules at two high school summer programs. Students were very engaged with the projects and they enjoyed sharing their findings with their peers. Due to the diversity of astrobiology as a scientific field, NAP was able to open these students up to new possibilities within math and science and helped to broaden their scientific literacy. Some students who were previously not interested in pursuing science had decided it was a field worth a second chance.