Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District students participate in real-world science and engineering activities at ANSEP Middle School Academy


ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – The Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program is hosting 54 Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District students at its March Middle School Academy. Students arrived at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus last week, where they will live like college students for two weeks while participating in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math learning activities designed to ignite interest in pursuing an education and career in these areas.

Led by staff from the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, the students designed and built model Arctic walls on Friday, March 23, as part of an innovative curriculum designed to teach the importance of energy efficiency. By periodically testing for heat loss in their structures, students gained real-world engineering experience calculating the cost efficiency of their designs and ultimately learning the role insulation plays in energy-efficient buildings.

Throughout the two-week, all-expenses-paid component, students experience daily life as scientists and engineers through activities like the Arctic wall build, a bridge-construction challenge, field excursions and more. The 54 students chosen to participate in the all-expenses-paid academy include:

  • Palmer: Maddex Bultron, Paris Burkett, Talise Duffield, Parker Glastetter, Richard Hoyt, Ivory Iverson, Gabe Jaime, Rytchard Kochuten, Samuel Petersen, Grey Phillips, Lanaya Sandstrom, McKenzie Shipton, Trinity Straughn and BettyJo Twitchell
  • Wasilla: Owen Beaudry, Antonio Betti, Emily Bitler, Makailyn Cabales, Andrew Christman, Angel Compton, Caden Cook, Olivia Davis, Jace Dean, Connor Dudley, Remy Fagerstrom, Magdiel Fernandez-Crus, Emmy Handy, Caleb Hillty, Liliana Koppenberg, Henry Kushin, Bryant Marks, Malia Matthews, Athena McAbee, Tucker Mocan, Hannah Mock, Dimitri Nay, Katie Neyman, Julius Oprenov, Wolfgang Pierce, Jade Roberts, Landen Romero, Kavyn Van Sant, Ashley Schaeffer, Alia Shane, Ava Shelley, Eliza Spangler and Kira Ward
  • Willow: Allison Thomas and Ryan Thomas

Students were selected based on applications that evaluated their academic records and essay responses. Another incentive of the component is the computer build activity, which allows students to keep the computers they build the first week of the component, provided 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.

“Middle School Academy is the first component in our longitudinal model, which strives to expose students early and often to STEM. Our goal is to help students find their passion for math and science at a young age and keep them on track for academic success throughout their educational careers,” said ANSEP Founder and Vice Provost Dr. Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder.

Students participating will also be on the path to attend ANSEP’s Acceleration High School at Valley Pathways in Palmer, where they have the option to take college courses immediately in conjunction with high school coursework. ANSEP’s proven education model has supported 800 undergraduate STEM degrees at UAA and has more than 2,500 students in its pipeline. By providing early access and exposure to STEM education, ANSEP is developing the next generation of Alaska’s future leaders.

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