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INSTEM program to expand to Native students across the state this summer

INSTEM Program
Lucy Fredericks
INSTEM Program

The program exposes Native American students to science, technology, engineering and math focused curriculum.

State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler says a summer instruction program to get Native American students interested in STEM subjects will be open to all Native students across the state this summer.

INSTEM, which stands for Indians into STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – began in 2018 and was aimed at getting Native students attracted to STEM careers. Lucy Fredericks is director at the Office of Indian and Multicultural Education at the Department of Public Instruction. She says the first class was twelve sixth graders from New Town.

"We started with twelve students; the following year we had 33 students. And then of course COVID came, so we were not able to have it in 20 or 21. And then in 2022, we had 39 students. Last year in 2023 we had 54. Our hope is to increase the attendance of middle and high school students, and we're hoping that by 2025 that we'll have over a hundred students. But I believer we're going to have more than that."

The program takes place in June, with each week open to a different school age group. The students live in on campus housing while attending the program at Valley City State University.

Fredericks says in the 21st century, education is moving toward these types of experiences in STEM education spaces. She says it gives students hands on, in person experience with the subjects as they begin to decide where they want their educations to go.

"Hopefully they'll be able to - when they graduate and go into post-secondary, if that's what they choose - at least they'll have the experience and the knowledge and the skills to continue on in those areas. And also for them to have that residential experience of them being on campus, so hopefully they'll be more comfortable if they decide to go off on to a college or university."

Fredericks says the program is free to attend. Students who want priority consideration should apply by the end of February, with the final deadline to apply being April 15. Students may apply online at VCSU’s INSTEM website -