Akeakamai: Indigenous Explorations in Community-Based Science Learning
As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understanding of deeper learning by participants. This pilot study, Akeakamai (Hawaiian, literally lover of wisdom, scientist, scholar), will explore the convergence of contemporary Western science topics with indigenous Hawaiian culture-based science experiences as a mechanism to strengthen STEM perceptions, cross-cultural science collaboration, and multi-generational community engagement with STEM. The work is grounded in the notion that STEM learning within the context of local informal indigenous community settings should be culturally responsive and culturally sustaining, and should privilege indigenous epistemologies. If successful, the results of this pilot could provide valuable insights on effective approaches to developing and implementing culturally consistent and sustainable multigenerational STEM engagement among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and across the Pacific region.
Over a two-year duration, the study will address three research questions. (1) To what extent does inclusion of culture into curriculum designed for informal Culture-Science Explorations mitigate perceived barriers to participation in science? (2) What barriers do community members perceive to limit their participation in science? (3) What are the areas of consonance between Native Hawaiian and Western scientific approaches to knowledge and learning? Approximately 200 predominantly Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, ranging in age from 8 - 85 years old, will participate in the pilot. The research team will collect participant data during all phases of the social intervention, a suite of culture-science exploration experiences held at the Halau Inana, a Native Hawaiian community collaboration space. The intervention will employ pedagogical methods that are responsive to Hawaiian cultural norms to deliver content that integrates across the interfaces of Western science and technology and indigenous knowledge, and incorporates Hawaiian language. A rigorous external evaluation will also be conducted. The results of the research and evaluation will be broadly disseminated. Ultimately, the project aims to develop a conceptual and practical cross-cultural, multi-generational framework for community-based science learning in Hawai'i that can serve as a model for future research and programs that extend into and beyond indigenous communities of the Pacific region.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
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