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After Summer School Program Succeeds with Culture, Engagement

PHOTO: The American Indian Math Project mixes culture with many hands-on learning experiences in helping prepare the youth for higher education and the 21st century workforce. CREDIT: DIW
PHOTO: The American Indian Math Project mixes culture with many hands-on learning experiences in helping prepare the youth for higher education and the 21st century workforce. CREDIT: DIW
June 7, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS – Many children might groan at the thought of having to learn math and science over summer vacation, but a unique effort in Minnesota is finding success.

It’s the American Indian Math Project through the Minneapolis School District and the Division of Indian Work.

Louise Matson, director of the youth leadership development program with DIW, says the program combines Native American culture and student engagement.

"And then a lot of what we do when we teach that way is very experiential and hands-on,” she explains. “It's like project based, which is also I think appealing to all students, but very appealing and engaging to American Indian students."

The American Indian Math Project serves about 40 students, grades five through eight.

The program is funded through a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, and Matson explains that to best prepare the students for the workforce of tomorrow, the focus is on the so-called STEM curriculum.

"So science, technology, engineering and math,” she says. “I mean they're all related, but as far as engaging students, it's very nice to incorporate all of those. And especially in a summer school setting where you can do a lot of environmental education."

Matson adds another reason behind the program's success is that much of the staff is from the local Native American community.

"So, very close relationships with the students, which is really important,” she says, “and so that I think helps keep the kids in the program, keeps them engaged as well."


John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN