Source: Produced for Teachers' Domain
This video profile produced for Teachers' Domain introduces Dustin Madden, an Iñupiaq and assistant science teacher in the Anchorage, Alaska, school district. Madden explains the importance of developing a strong background in science and math in order to help preserve and protect the environment. He also discusses how his cultural upbringing has influenced him, and how he tries to reach out to students who have grown up in rural Alaska.
Exposure to the sciences can inspire students to want to learn more about and make a difference in their world. For example, learning about climate change and its consequences can motivate students to look for ways to help protect their local environment. An education in science and mathematics also provides a foundation for many jobs both within and outside these fields by fostering valuable skills, such as how to make good observations, ask questions, solve problems, and think logically and analytically. Therefore, a basic understanding of science and mathematics is essential for all students, and can be developed through academic courses (such as biology, chemistry, physics, Earth science, algebra, and trigonometry) and life experience (such as Alaska Native ways of knowing).
In this video profile, Dustin Madden, who is part Iñupiaq and originally from Nome, Alaska, explains how he grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, and that he strongly believes in the importance of preserving and protecting the environment. In his position as an assistant science teacher in the Anchorage school district, he recognizes the importance of teaching mathematics and science; he especially tries to reach out to students who have grown up in rural Alaska and to make a connection with his own cultural roots.
In Alaska, it is particularly important for students to explore mathematics and science. There is a need for technologically proficient workers—such as those trained to operate water systems—in rural villages and towns. In addition, it is critical for community members to become involved in science to influence research priorities and take part in wildlife management to help protect Alaska Native ways of life. The traditional knowledge of Alaska Native peoples can be applied in partnership with that of Western science to better understand and deal with forthcoming environmental changes.
Furthermore, in our technologically advanced society, the future of the global workforce depends on education grounded in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—collectively known as the STEM fields. These are essential subjects of study in today's world, where aspects of STEM permeate everyday life (from computers and health care to civil infrastructure and the environment). Jobs in these fields are important to both local and national economies.
The United States has traditionally been a leader in scientific and technological arenas; however, it is currently facing a talent gap that may diminish its global competitiveness. At the beginning of this century, it became evident that the U.S. was facing a major shortage of STEM graduates. The U.S. currently produces just a fraction of the number of STEM graduates that other countries, such as China and India, are generating. In order to maintain the nation's scientific and technological edge, science and mathematics education needs to improve, and students need to be inspired to study and enter STEM fields. A variety of initiatives have been implemented to strengthen education programs and to provide incentives to support and encourage students to pursue STEM degrees.
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