ANSEP Middle School Academy students learn about energy conservation and other STEM topics relevant to Alaskans through real-world, hands-on activities


ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program is hosting 30 students from the Kashunamiut, Lower Yukon and Kenai Peninsula Borough school districts at its second Middle School Academy of the 2018-2019 school year. Throughout the two-week, residential component, Middle School Academy students learn about science, technology, engineering and math through hands-on activities like designing and building snug houses.

Today, led by Colleen Fisk with the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, students learned about the importance of balancing heating cost and heating efficiency using different types of insulation, learning about insulation R-value, renewable energy sources, and applying some of these concepts to buildings in Alaska by assembling their own insulation barriers inside of a wooden box, or “snug house”, to model an actual arctic building wall. After assembling their model buildings, students tested the temperature and calculated the cost efficiency of their designs. By exposing students to real-world applications for STEM education, Middle School Academy sparks an early interest in higher education.

“The recent snowfall in Anchorage is a perfect example of why energy efficiency is important in everyday life, especially here in Alaska. By designing snug houses and testing the insulation, students learn skills they can apply within their local communities,” said ANSEP Founder and Vice Provost Dr. Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder. “Discovering practical uses for science and engineering, like saving money and helping keep your family warm by conserving energy or improving insulation, encourages students to pursue STEM degrees and ultimately STEM careers.”

Hailing from three school districts and eight communities across Alaska, the students chosen to participate in this November’s all-expenses paid Middle School Academy component include:

  • Alakanuk: Cherise Chikigak, Troy Chikigak, AaniyahMurray, Lonnie Stribling Jr. and Kiera Strongheart
  • Anchor Point: Abrianna Smith
  • Chevak: Justin Atchak, Franz Fermoyle, Laney Green, Kali Hill, Zachariah Hockema, Brandy Jones, Mariah Nash, Dirk Night, Keanu Tangiegak, Abigail Tunutmoak, Haven Ulroan and Chloe Wassillie
  • Homer: Spencer Co, Alivia Fefelov, Zachary Marley, Hayden Mullikin, Thea Person and Leilani Sallison
  • Kenai: Gwendylan Case, Jason Koenig and Thomas Smith
  • Marshall: Joshua Turet
  • Nikiski: Johnathan Ralston
  • Scammon Bay: Charlie Kaganak

In addition to computer builds and other parts of the innovative curriculum, the students live in dorms and experience the college lifestyle on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. An added incentive to the component is any student who proceeds to pass Algebra 1 before completing eighth grade is able to keep the computer he or she builds during the Academy. Modeling applications after the college process and hosting Middle School Academies on campus establishes a sense of comfort and familiarity for students who may not have previously considered college as an option. This early exposure builds confidence and causes students to envision college as part of their career path.

Middle School Academies are the first component ANSEP students can attend and they are encouraged to stay involved throughout their entire educational process. From teaching study skills and teamwork to providing career development, access to internships and networking opportunities, ANSEP is creating a brighter future for students across Alaska. Learn more about ANSEP and its components at www.ANSEP.net.

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