Lincoln Public School After School Program Learns About Native American Culture and Historical Transportation

students testing boat

Lincoln Public School students who participated in MATC's Roads, Rails, and Race Cars (RRRC) after school program were treated to all new lessons and activities that connected them to Nebraska's Native American cultural heritage.

The connection was made through the implementation of new curriculum created by Michele Blackbird Barcelona during MATC’s 2020 Summer Institute. The Summer Institute is a program in which K-12 educators and university faculty collaborate to create STEM curriculum and other instructional materials. Barcelona is an educator at the Umónnhon Nation Public School and has been a host teacher for RRRC since 2017.

Barcelona’s lessons place STEM concepts such as transportation and simple machines in a historical context, in this case, the Umónnhon People’s role in trade along the Missouri River during the period of US Western Expansion. The activities associated with the lessons include designing and building a river barge that holds cargo, and designing and building a series of simple machines to unload cargo from the barge and move it to a designated spot. Barcelona’s lessons and activities will become part of the regular RRRC curriculum in future semesters.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, RRRC’s outreach was limited to less school than usual during Spring 2021. Although MATC prefers to interact with students in-person, host teachers at Culler Middle School, Mickle Middle School, and Park Middle School took the initiative to lead this semester’s weekly clubs with video lessons and materials provided by MATC. Schools and cultures have come together in a significant way to keep future STEM leaders interested and engaged while social distancing. This connection promises to yield many more meaningful learning opportunities for future RRRC students.

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