Students and staff at Sisseton Wahpeton College in South Dakota have re-seeded 100 acres of farmland, restoring a lost prairie.
By Katie Scarlett Brandt
With European settlement, much of North America’s grasslands were lost by the middle of the twentieth century, largely due to extensive farming. Of the more than 170 million acres of tallgrass prairie that once covered the plains, less than 4 percent remains, according to the National Park Service.
However, Sisseton Wahpeton College in Sisseton, South Dakota is working to bring it back. The tribal college, located in northeastern South Dakota, seeded a 100-acre parcel located behind college’s rural campus in 2009, converting it from farmland after two years of planning. Eight years later, college employees and students work together to eliminate non-native species and restore the prairie grasses, flowers, and shrubs that once occupied the area.
A new children’s book series created by students at College of Menominee Nation presents engineers as problem-solving heroes
By Ryan Winn
Simply put, there aren’t enough Native Americans pursuing STEM degrees. As the National Science Foundation reported in its Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 Report, American Indians and Alaska Natives received a mere 0.4% of all master’s degrees in science and engineering between 1985 and 2005. Examining barriers, research has documented a widespread belief among American Indian students, even in the early years of their education, that science, math and engineering fields are difficult, uninteresting, and not relevant to their lives.
Combating these attitudes, College of Menominee Nation’s STEM HERO Program is making math, science, and engineering meaningful and relevant to Native students by offering hands-on, culturally grounded, and interdisciplinary approaches to STEM education. One of our most recent projects, publication of a children’s book series about engineering, is testament to our success.
Partially funded by the National Science Foundation’s Tribal College and University Program, two fellow faculty members and I created and implemented a model that led our engineering students through the process of book creation and publication. Next, we devised classroom activities utilizing K’NEX toy sets and shared our work with grade school educators and students in our community. We empowered our engineering students to create stimulating tools that inspire young people to engage in STEM. It’s an exciting process we hope to help replicate beyond Northeastern Wisconsin.
Creating Interest in STEM
The genesis for our work began when engineering professor Dr. Lisa Bosman expressed interest in transforming a lecture-based Introduction to Engineering course into a more active learning environment.
“Initially I assigned students present their research about the various engineering fields at each course meeting,” Dr. Bosman said. “I then asked the class to give feedback and pose questions before supplementing and clarifying any areas that needed it. While this was a helpful way to flip the classroom, the presentations revealed that students needed help building their research and communication skills.”
A Comparison of the Antimicrobial Activities of Cultivated Echinacea angustifolia (Purple Coneflower) versus Wild E. angustifolia
Medicinal plants have been have been used for centuries to treat various diseases across the world. While plant extracts have been used to synthesize modern commercial drugs, so far only a small percent of traditionally prescribed plant medicines have been studied for their therapeutic value. In recent years, the American public has become enamored with herbal remedies, yet there continues to be a relative scarcity of scientific research. Echinacea (purple coneflower) has received global attention because of its potential for medicinal value. Extensive laboratory and clinical research on Echinacea angustifolia in the last few years in Germany has confirmed its immunostimulatory, antiviral, and antibacterial benefit to humans. The purpose of this study is to use the agar-well diffusion method to compare antimicrobial activity of cultivated and wild E. angustifolia. We hypothesize that cultivated E. angustifolia will show more antimicrobial activity against five different strains of bacteria (two Gram-negative, three Gram-positive) due to being cultivated under ideal conditions.
Field Notes: The Native Science Report Blog
Since the November presidential election, the science community has anxiously worried about the fate of programs and agencies that support and conduct research in the sciences. President Trump’s proposed budget, released this week, offers little reassurance and is already generating a flurry of news stories and commentary.
According to a March 16 New York Times story, the proposed budget “took direct aim at basic scientific and medical research.” While this was anticipated, the story noted that “the extent of the cuts in the proposed budget unveiled early Thursday shocked scientists, researchers and program administrators.” It stated:
“The reductions include $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, from the National Institutes of Health, which fund thousands of researchers working on cancer and other diseases, and $900 million, or a little less than 20 percent, from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which funds the national laboratories, considered among the crown jewels of basic research in the world.”
The story noted that the budget reflects an effort to zero-out funding for all climate change research, including within the EPA.
The budget must be passed by Congress and will, as is always the case, undergo significant changes. Indeed, some proposed cuts are already being deemed “non-starters” by several Republican leaders in Congress, particularly cuts to medical research.
Not all agencies are affected equally. Several websites and science advocacy organizations noted that the National Science Foundation was not mentioned in the White House’s budget. “Given the cuts seen for many other federal science agencies…some have seen the omission in the budget outline released today as a blessing,” observed the SAGE-sponsored website, Social Science Space.
The National Science Foundation has issued a new program solicitation for its Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), which provides support to “early-career” faculty who “have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization,” according to the solicitation synopsis.
“Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research,” according to the synopsis. “NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from early-career faculty at all CAREER-eligible organizations and especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and persons with disabilities to apply.”
The solicitation also includes a description of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
The new CAREER program solicitation (NSF 17-537) can be accessed at https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17537/nsf17537.htm