LKSD Students Experience ANSEP Academy

LKSD Students Experience ANSEP Academy
Posted on 03/02/2022
ANSEP student earthquake build
Within a few days at the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, LKSD students had dissected a squid, saw themselves on the SeaWolf Center jumbotron, constructed a PC, simulated an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, and learned basic coding language.

Save perhaps for the jumbotron, these are the types of activities students can expect to experience at the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program, which has been a partner with LKSD since 2014. 

This spring at UAA, two cohorts of 26 LKSD middle school students will increase their mathematics and science skills through hands-on activities, get familiarized with college life, and be introduced to possible STEM careers.

When asked about the most valuable takeaway from the session, a group of students from Bethel agreed that it was working as a team and public speaking. 

“There was teamwork behind everything,” said Elias Komulainen. “We were given a project and we all had to do it together and plan it out together.”

Upon arrival, participants build a top-end desktop computer and earn the right to keep it by completing Algebra 1, which is an advanced skill-set for middle school age students. 

ANSEP Computer Build

In addition to building their computers, students participate in hands-on activities, experiments, projects, and field experiences to expand their knowledge of other STEM-related concepts, such as engineering, marine science, coding, and energy science. 

“I thought the earthquake engineering was really interesting. That made me interested in being a professor at [UAA] when I get older, and teaching that kind of stuff,” said Ellie LaValle.

ANSEP Earthquake build

The Middle School Academy experience emphasizes teamwork, collaboration, social-emotional skills, and provides opportunities for self-reflection. The national average for all students completing Algebra 1 by eighth grade is 26%. Among ANSEP Middle School Academy students, it is more than 70%, though the lessons didn’t stop with mathematics.

Christopher Ayagalria described a coding program called Scratch they employed to create simple animation, noting Scratch and learning about computer parts were his favorite activities of the week - aside from getting to attend the UAA basketball game, that is.

ANSEP engages students at a critical time in their academic careers, identifying potential participants early, promoting an attitude of readiness, preparing students for the challenges ahead, and giving them the tools and support they need to succeed. This readiness model is fundamental to ANSEP's core objective to create and provide continuous opportunities up to the Ph.D. level to keep students excited, motivated and engaged.

When asked how the group would describe the program to someone considering applying, Delaney Jackson jumped right in. 

“Super fun and educational,” she said.

LKSD students who are excited to learn more about STEM and interested in going to college are encouraged to apply for future LKSD ANSEP Middle School Academy opportunities. Students do not need prior ANSEP experience to apply. 

The first session ran from Feb. 14-22 and another will be held March 15--21. 

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