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Release: June 23, 1999

University of Iowa hosts annual American Indian science program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A summer program at the University of Iowa introduces American Indian high school students to college-level science work and helps them build skills through experiences that blend native cultures with contemporary sciences.

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Summer Program in the Life Sciences began at the UI 10 years ago. The DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund provides AISES with money for the camp.

One of several programs sponsored by AISES on college campuses, the life sciences program is an intensive, three-week course of lectures, laboratory work, computer experience, field trips and other activities. Students conduct experiments using microbiological techniques and look at how their laboratory findings relate to environmental changes, natural resources and climate.

The students prepare for college while exploring career possibilities and working with native teachers and role models. Teachers this year include John Brewer from Red Cloud Indian School and Misty Brave, from Oglala Lakota College, both on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

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 program director. He noted that the AISES program prepares students to succeed in college and beyond.

"Most program participants go on to college, including here at the University of Iowa. Just this year, Tracy Peterson, a Navajo 10th grader from Ganado, Ariz. who was in the 1990 summer program, received his bachelor's degree this spring from the University of Iowa," he said.

Forty-two students representing 23 different tribes from 11 states are participating in this year's program. They all will be in 10th grade this fall and are already thinking about college, Coulter said.

Students also have plenty of time for social activities. The schedule includes games, bowling, canoeing, horseback riding, and boating and swimming at Lake Macbride.

The summer program continues through June 27.