ANSEP partners with Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District to bring 54 students to Middle School Academy


ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program is hosting 54 students from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District this month for Middle School Academy. Throughout the two-week, residential component held at the University of Alaska Anchorage, students learn about science, technology, engineering and math through various hands-on activities. The component is designed to motivate students and spark an early interest in higher education and STEM careers.

Students selected to participate in Middle School Academy based on academic records and essay responses include:

  • Birchtree Charter School: Zoey Christianson and Rhougan Mueller
  • Colony Middle School: Zachary Cheyette, Hope Colwell, Dalton Eldridge, Kara Lavine, London Lee, Ellissa Lo, Quilan Meehl, Enzio Rangel, Quinn Rice, Kassandra Thomas and Presley Wright
  • Houston Middle School: Kaylie Aposik, Aden Burch, Kiara Daley, Kristen Odden, Nakya Stephenson and Longcheng Yang
  • Joe Redington Senior Junior/Senior High School: Marina Anderstrom, Jamiel Asher, Cayden Campbell, Mya Campbell, Maryann Gilman, Zach Gilman, Anthen Goodwin, Caden Higgs, Killian Medina, Brooklyn Mocan, Sophia Murphy and Xavia Wilson
  • Midnight Sun Family Learning Center: Kaydence Rifredi
  • Palmer Junior Middle School: Elora Dermer, Matthew Gustafson, Aden Hershman, Kalani Makaneole-Manus, James Maxson and Sophia Murphy
  • Teeland Middle School: Serenity Aiken, Gabriel Baldwin, Viviana Boney, Cassidy Knutsen, Ashley Kushin, Isabella Leaders, Analea Rexford, Kenneth Walton and Le’Sedra Williams
  • Wasilla Middle School: Jaide Campbell, Darian Holodynski, Shalena LeGaux, Kash Rapoza-Kochuten, Stanley Stachan, Matthew Stewlow-Topkok, Kenneth Tyson II and Hayden Wright

Throughout Middle School Academy students participate in several learning activities focused on team building, critical thinking and creativity. Led by ANSEP staff, the students competed in a windmill challenge on Friday, March 22. The activity taught them how wind turbines work to capture energy and convert it to usable mechanical energy. Using a limited number of materials within a designated timeframe, the students competed to build windmills capable of lifting the heaviest object.

Students also learned what it takes to build their own computer. As an incentive, students can keep the computer they assembled if they agree to complete Algebra 1 before high school and maintain above average grades in their math and science classes. From living on the UAA campus to filling out college-like applications as early as fifth grade, Middle School Academies spark an early interest in higher education and put students on the fast track to a STEM career.

“When given the tools, motivation and support they need, these students can accomplish anything,” said ANSEP Founder and Vice Provost Dr. Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder. “Not only are they learning the fundamentals of STEM, they are learning to keep their eye on the prize and never give up.”

The Middle School Academy’s goal is to send students back to the classroom feeling a new level of confidence about their academic achievements and motivated to further pursue STEM education.

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