The ‘Field to the Fair’ Program
The ‘Field to the Fair’ project is funded through the National Science Foundation and addresses the underrepresentation of Native Americans in the geosciences. It’s purpose is to broaden Native American participation in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences education and career pathways. This project was proposed by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) in collaboration with the faculty from Oglala Lakota College (OLC).
‘Field to the Fair’ program started with a seven-day summer camp in June 17-23, 2012, which exposed students to a variety of topics in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The camp experiences lead participants to developing a topic that, in the fall 2012, grew into a science fair project. Throughout the fall 2012 and spring 2013, participants had by-monthly workshops on the SDSM&T campus. The prepared science projects were entered to compete for prizes at the 58th Annual High Plains Regional Science and Engineering Fair, held in March 2013 at SDSM&T. Although no prizes were won, this was a great opportunity for the students to be part of a science fair of such magnitude (> 350 projects and > 500 participants).
This program continued during 2014 – 2015 with Native students from Central High School participating. The goal was to continue mentoring high school students in science project preparation during the fall 2014 and spring 2015 (on the SDSM&T campus), and participate at the 60th Annual High Plains Regional Science And Engineering Fair, held in March 2015 at SDSM&T. Ms. Harriet Brings, Native American Lakota Language teacher at Rapid City Central High School, was again invited to be part of the project during the 2014-2015 school year. Ms. Brings plays a major role in keeping participating students excited about their work and about learning Lakota Language and culture along the way. In addition, three Native students currently enrolled at SDSM&T were selected to mentor the high school students during science project preparation. These science projects were entered to compete for prizes at the 60th Annual High Plains Regional Science and Engineering Fair, held on March 23rd, 2015 at SDSM&T.
Out of four projects entered in the senior division competition, three of them got awarded with prizes: 2nd place in Physical Sciences, 2nd place in Social Sciences, and the special award from the ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives. These accomplishments are remarkable in view of the fact that this year’s regional fair was the largest ever.