Salmon camp research team renewal: 2009 evaluation report
The Salmon Camp Research Team (SCRT) project was created to address the under-representation of Native Americans in information technology (IT) and IT-intensive professions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is partnering with the Native American Youth and Family Association (NAYA) under the renewed National Science Foundation (NSF) funding to strengthen community involvement and work directly with students year round. An SCRT program website is under development with program information and a social networking page. The 2007-2008 evaluation of the project found evidence of effective implementation and data on important student attitudes and dispositions to support students in STEM coursework and as they consider postsecondary options in STEM. Implementation The Fall 2007 Family Event was the first activity under the renewal funding and focused on inclusion of families in the project. Registration documents showed 61 youth and adults attended the event. The event was valued by those who attended and provided a collaborative environment for launching the grant renewal. The SCRT Renewal provided multiple opportunities to involve youth in STEM activities and exposure to IT careers. The centerpiece of SCRTs (Salmon Camp and Salmon Club, collectively) has been immersion of Native American middle and high school students in engaging and personally relevant experiences in the field. Expanding field experiences in an after-school setting through NAYA is central to the renewal vision. Participants in both branches of the project have Native American community affiliations and are interested in advancing their learning to pursue technologically rich careers or areas of study. Eighty students participated in the various field-based "Salmon Camp" sessions. Seventeen different high school students were involved in the four summer research teams. Twenty-two middle school students participated in the session at Camp Magruder, and thirteen joined the field-based San Juan Islands team. A new component of the renewal funding is an after-school program for 5th through 9th grade students. Partnering with NAYA, the after-school format is providing a club-style experience by building from NAYA's existing after-school program. The Salmon Club after-school sessions were offered at the NAYA Family Center two evenings per week in a spring and fall nine-week session cycle. In both the spring and fall sessions combined, 35 different students participated in Salmon Club. Eighteen of those students also attended a summer Salmon Camp session. Progress toward Impacts Findings from the full spectrum of evaluation strategies suggest that the project is making progress toward achieving intended impacts through collaborative efforts between OMSI and NAYA and implementation of the SCRTs. Impact 1: Spark and Sustain the Interest of Native American Youth in STEM and IT Careers Data from the annual student survey, in-camp interviews, and end-of-session feedback suggest the Salmon Camp field sessions are positively influencing most participants' interest and knowledge of STEM careers. For high school students, exposure to various colleges and universities has been important to their thinking about postsecondary aspirations. Impact 2: Develop Participants' Abilities to Use Information Technologies to Collect, Analyze, and Interpret Data and Solve Real-World Problems Participants in the field SCRT sessions reported fairly high levels of learning with regards to using technological tools to collect, analyze, and interpret data in authentic, real world situations. Across students, areas of strength were reported in e-mail and related applications. Students also reported high levels of interest in learning more about how technology is used in science and resource management. Lower ratings were assigned to advanced IT skills such as the use of databases. Most Salmon Camp participants clearly believed that the program is making them more aware of how computers and technology are used in science/resource management by providing hands-on experience and exposure to authentic research being conducted in the field. Overall feedback from the field sessions suggests that nearly all students increased their science knowledge and skills in using technology in science research. The use of technology tools has not been an emphasis in the after-school program and did not emerge as a theme students mentioned in any of the data collection strategies used. Impact 3: Promote Participants' Understanding of, and Appreciation for, the Complementary Relationship between Cultural Knowledge and Western Science Students in field sessions of Salmon Camp reported learning about ecological relationships and ecosystems, cultural traditions of various tribes, and ways in which tribes are using Western science. Salmon Club students effectively demonstrated their learning about ethnobotany through the Trading Knowledge event, an evening open house in which students shared projects through a poster session for other students, parents, and interested stakeholders. Looking Forward A major challenge for the project in the coming year will be in supporting the new project Co-PI who will need to build relationships with the many partners involved in the grant. Much remains to be accomplished in the coming grant period, if the project is to achieve targeted impacts and objectives. Increased attention to infusing cultural components and opportunities for families will be important. Continued enhancements of the Salmon Club curriculum and project website should also draw attention. Additionally, development of the Toolkit for dissemination of the SCRT story will require thoughtful time and collaboration from the entire team. The appendix of the report includes the surveys, interview protocols, and consent form used in the study.
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