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Release: June 20, 2001

Summer program brings Native American high school students to UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- High school students from Native American tribes throughout the Midwest and New Mexico are spending part of this summer at the University of Iowa, getting a glimpse of college life and learning how to conduct research in fields as diverse as archaeology and environmental sciences.

Iowa First Nations Summer Program 2001, which began last week and concludes Friday, June 29 with a colorful closing ceremony in Kent Park, has brought together 23 students representing the Navajo, Lakota and Pueblo tribes.

For 12 years, the Iowa First Nations Summer Program (previously called the Iowa American Indian Science and Engineering Society Summer Program in the Life Sciences) has blended college-level lectures, laboratory work, computer experience, field trips and other activities at the UI. During the intensive three-week program, students are immersed in health, life and environmental sciences, as well as liberal arts disciplines, while getting the chance to learn about each other's cultures.

The students prepare for college while exploring career possibilities and working with native teachers and role models. Joe Coulter, Ph.D., UI associate provost for diversity and director of Opportunity at Iowa, is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma and the Iowa First Nations Summer Program director. And the group's teacher this year is John Brewer, an Oglala Lakota from Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Brewer has been involved with the program from its beginning.

Also involved since the beginning of the program is the UI College of Education, whose science education division secured the initial grant for the program. Staff in the college's Education Technology Center are volunteering time to train the students how to use computers for research they'll conduct while at the university.

John Achrazoglou, coordinator of technology and lecturer on instructional design and technology in the college, said he and his colleagues are showing students -- some of whom have had little experience with computers -- how to search the Web for information, how to use spreadsheet programs to analyze and chart their data and how to put together Power Point presentations at the end of the three-week session.

Also, for the first time this year, the students are being given their own Web sites to post any papers they write, journal entries, photos and their final presentations.

"We see this as a way for students to put up things on the Web so their work can be evaluated and shared with other students," Achrazoglou said, adding that his involvement with the program "has been very fulfilling for me over the years."

Students also have plenty of time for social activities. The schedule includes games, bowling, canoeing, a scavenger hunt, a ropes course, dancing and field trips. And the closing ceremony often includes talks by elders on the importance of higher education, traditional foods and round dances.

For information and photos from last year's Iowa First Nations program, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~ianation/.