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UMaine Gets $300,000 To Increase Native American Enrollment In STEM Fields

An effort to get more Native American college students to study science, technology, engineering and math subjects is getting funding from the National Science Foundation.

The $300,000 grant will help establish a program to bring traditional knowledge and learning methods into higher education. Darren Ranco, chair of Native American programs at the University of Maine in Orono, says this kind of approach is known to help students.

“One of the key elements of student success in college in general is them seeing themselves in the curriculum, reflected in the curriculum either explicitly or in the faculty or in the kinds of careers they’re working towards,” he says. “We will work with university faculty and native knowledge-keepers to teach traditional native knowledge in the context of science classes here at the University of Maine.”

The program will extend work that’s already being done with Maine middle and high school students, which Ranco says has already lead to a substantial increase in the number of Native American students enrolling in STEM fields at UMaine.

It’s also meant to find ways to expand native involvement in STEM fields that can be repeated in different schools around the country.