Eager for a summer of learning, Native American students arrived at Utah State University Eastern Blanding June 29 for a six-week American Indian Services Pre-freshman Engineering Program (AIS PREP). The program is specifically meant for students with an interest in the STEM—science, technology, engineering, math—fields.
The program is modeled after PREP-USA, a national program that emphasizes increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields. The majority of students at this program, who will be entering seventh grade, were from the nearby Navajo Nation. Once they complete AIS PREP, the students will enter high school with the equivalent of an additional half year of in-class math and science instruction.
Native American students use engineering principles to build popsicle stick bridges during the six-week AIS PREP program.
Students stay on campus during the week and are transported home for the weekend. While on campus, they attend classes in logic, problem solving, and engineering. Students also hear about different career opportunities available through STEM from professionals.
Staying overnight allows more time for students to build relationships, have fun, and take field trips, according to AIS PREP Director Dr. Sylvia McMillan. “Our efforts and thoughts are always with the whole child in mind as we seek to help them discover and strengthen their individual interests and skills. We hope this will direct them in their paths toward maturity and becoming active participants in society,” Dr. McMillan said.