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Engaging High School Girls in Native American Culturally Responsive STEAM Activities

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Journal of STEM Education Volume 18, Number 5, ISSN 1557-5284 Publisher: Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Engineering Education (LITEE)


Providing Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) culturally responsive out-of-classroom activities is one way of promoting more interest in Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) studies and careers among indigenous students. The purpose of the study was to explore the impact, if any, of STEAM culturally responsive activities, embedded with Dakota/Lakota values and traditions, in a partnership between a mainstream college of engineering and a population of high school girls at a Federal Native American boarding high school. Researchers engaged in a qualitative methods exploratory place-based case study in a technical action partnership with indigenous persons, a study rooted in the situational perspective of critical theory and Native voice from the position of discovery, a diverse epistemological stance. For a majority of participants, results showed a movement in attitudes from negative to positive for STEM studies as a result of “being part of STEAM Girls.\u201d Mathematics remains problematical, since post-survey results demonstrate that a majority reported liking to study Science, Technology, and Engineering (STE) and believed that careers in those fields could make a real difference in their communities, but less so for Mathematics. The finding of enthusiastic feelings towards Mathematics is a particular concern considering its central role in Engineering and the overall STEM cluster. Results indicated increased interest in STE studies and careers. This study demonstrates a link between culturally relevant activities and increasing interest in STEM studies and STE careers in this situation at this place. Results suggest that indigenous relevancy of activities matters, even if not tribally specific.


Kant, J., Burckhard, S. & Meyers, R. (2018). Engaging High School Girls in Native American Culturally Responsive STEAM Activities. Journal of STEM Education, 18(5),. Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Engineering Education (LITEE). Retrieved July 6, 2022 from .



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