By Emelina Minerom for Edutopia
For more than a decade, education and industry leaders have lamented what they see as insufficient training offered in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields in U.S. schools, arguing that young people are left ill-equipped for jobs in the 21st century. In response, schools are increasingly ramping up their STEM courses, organizations are offering coding and robotics camps, and 22 states have now adopted computer science standards.
Through their efforts, educators have also attempted to tackle the racial and gender disparities among young people entering STEM professions by encouraging more female, black, and Latino students to take STEM courses and enter STEM careers. But often absent in these discussions are Native American students, more than half of whom currently lack access to the math and science high school classes they’d need to fill jobs in a STEM field, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In 2018, only 176 Native students took the computer science principles AP exam, out of 70,864 students total, according to the College Board.
It’s statistics like this that inspired the creation of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), a nonprofit with a mission to increase the numbers of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations, and other indigenous peoples of North America in STEM education and careers. Founded in 1977, AISES works with more than 150 K–12 schools, as well as colleges and working professionals.