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Aug 17 2015
Science and Math Camp Encourages Alaska Native Students to Excel PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 August 2015
ansep_building.jpgANSEP building in Anchorage. Via ANSEP.net

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A science and math camp aims to reach out to Alaska Native students and encourage them to craft, calculate, and compete. The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp is organized with the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, and puts kids to work on everything from spacecrafts to computers.

This summer, campers got to spend two weeks on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, free of charge, with 48 other middle school students and complete hands-on projects. 11-year-old Kodiak local, Nicholas Dryden, says building a PC was the first task campers took on. He also says it was his favorite activity.

“They ordered monitors for us and blue ray players so that the computer could actually play and read discs, but you had to hook the blue-ray reader up and the CPU, the CPU fan, the motherboard, you put everything in,” he says. “It just came with the computer box itself. Programming took the long part. It only took us about two or three days to build and program the whole computer.”

He says campers participated in contests, and one was a Mars landing simulation.

“You got a hundred dollars, not actually, but as a fake budget and then you would buy stuff like foam sheets or bubble wrap or anything, so the main objective was to get the ball down to the ground softly without the ping pong ball bouncing out.”

Nicholas says his group won and says he feels proud of all that he learned during the camp.

Nicholas is going into 6th grade, but he’s already looking to the future.

Here’s what he imagines himself doing when he gets older.          

“Probably game designing, ‘cause I like games and I like programming stuff, and I’ve looked it up a few times and it pays a pretty good amount of money,” he says.

He’s not the only one thinking ahead. Dahlia Berns, an 11-year-old from Old Harbor, says camp instructors told students about the different career paths open to them. Dahlia says it helped and urges other students to apply.

“If they have the opportunity to go to that camp, they should definitely go, ‘cause it’s amazing really,” says Dahlia. “And it makes your future seem a lot easier and it helps you decide on what you would like to do. It gives more ideas.”

Dahlia says she’d like to go to UAA for college and wants to be an engineer. These are big dreams for a middle-school student, but that’s what ANSEP encourages according to Herb Schroeder, who is the organization’s founder as well as a professor of engineering and ANSEP vice-provost.

“The camp is the first step in a process where we work with those kids from sixth grade all the way through to a P.H.D if they want one,” says Schroeder. “And so what we are really focused on is working on socializing students to the campus and then preparing them academically to come to college.”

Schroeder says Alaska Native students as a demographic are shown to under-perform academically.

“The biggest barrier is that people tell them they can’t do it,” he says. “There’s a lot of bias in the system, even at the university here there’s bias, but in K-12 system, there’s people out there who discourage the kids, just like women are discouraged all over the country from coming and doing science and engineering. It’s very subtle, it’s ‘Oh, that’s a really hard class, you should think about this one.’”

He says ANSEP strives to inspire achievement by motivating its students. The summer program is open to children in grades 5, 6, or 7. To apply or just find out more, visit ANSEP.net.
Aug 14 2015
The Alaska Fisheries Report PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 14 August 2015
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Coming up this week, four communities in the Bering Strait region have recieved a halibut donation in light of a poor walrus harvest this spring. And the federal government purchased millions of dollars worth of canned Alaska sockeye salmon. Then, we hear from a popular net shop owner in the town of Naknek. That and more coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report.
Aug 14 2015
Kodiak City Council Moves Forward on Pathway Planning PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 14 August 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak City Council talked grants and pathway planning at its regular meeting last night. City Manager Aimée Kniaziowski explained the available funds that the Council had at its disposal when deciding how much money nonprofits should receive.

“This year, that amount is $149,900,” she said. “This year, the city received 23 applications. They were all complete. They were all submitted on time for a total aggregate request of $215,634, which is obviously over the funding amount available.”

Representatives from the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross discussed their grant requests at Tuesday’s work session and, instead of decreasing all nonprofits’ grants by 3 percent at last night’s meeting, the council moved to lower the amount it would give the two organizations. Councilmember John Whiddon explained the decision.

“It became clear in Tuesday night’s work session that the money, or at least a portion of the money, that was being requested was very likely going to leave town, so the reason for this amendment is to ensure that all the money is given local taxpayer dollars remains in town.”

The Council also discussed dedicating money it received from the cruise ship excise tax fund. Kniaziowski said the council would need to set aside the money for a project in order not to lose it.

“The city was awarded a grant for $384,000 dollars from the state legislature for originally, it was part of a larger program,” she said. “We know that that didn’t go anywhere. The pathway just became onerously expensive, so council decided that you wouldn’t move forward with that. But the money remained.”
She said the funds would need to go towards the tourism sector, but the project description could remain general at this stage.

“We didn’t have to be any more specific than to say that we were gonna use it for planning and engineering of a community pathway that would enhance the experience of the cruise ship passengers as well as local folks,” said Kniaziowski.

As currently written, a pedestrian pathway would go from Pier 2 to Near Island and “other points of interest,” a phrase which Whiddon took issue with.

“The point about other points of interest is pretty nonspecific, and we only have $384,000 for planning dollars,” said Whiddon. “So unless the RFP ultimately when it gets written is a little bit more specific, this is so general that it would infer that you could go in any direction.”

Whiddon proposed to strike that wording from the document and the council agreed to omit that section.

The council also recognized an open seat that Councilmember Terry Haines left behind him due his work schedule as a fisherman, which made him unable to attend all meetings. City Clerk Debra Marlar said the city code requires an appointment be made within thirty days of the seat becoming vacant.

“And because the first opportunity to advertise and hold a special meeting is next week and because we will not have a quorum here next week, our attorney has advised that it is permissible to either reappoint Mr. Haines or appoint another person at tonight’s meeting to serve until the October 6 election is certified,” said Marlar.

The council voted Haines back into the position, and Marlar said the two-year seat will be on the ballot for the city of Kodiak municipal election.

The next work session is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9, and the next regular meeting is set for the following day, September 10.
Aug 13 2015
Girl Scouts Program Encourages Girls in Science and Math PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 August 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Part of the effort to get girls interested in science and math is making opportunities available to them. This Friday, the Girl Scouts of Alaska will host a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – or STEM - program at Kodiak College.

Billeen Carlson is the Girl Scouts’ Member Services and Program Specialist for Kodiak, Prince William Sound, and the Kenai Peninsula and says the organization offers a safe and supportive environment for girls to stretch their leadership muscles.

“There’s a lot of unspoken assumptions about gender roles and in those environments, girls have a tendency to hang back and let their male counterparts jump forward in whatever the event is,” says Carlson. “And this isn’t any fault of anyone’s. This is just something that has kinda trickled down in our culture and girls just don’t have a tendency to put themselves forward. Some of them do, but not most of them.”

Carlson says Girl Scouts USA has made a big push to provide STEM programs for girls and engage them in science and math.

“Research shows that girls are more interested in STEM careers if they know how their work is going to help others. Most of the time, we try to get locals who can show what they’re doing and how what they’re doing applies to the girls and the girls’ communities.”

Friday’s program will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and feature a variety of topics, from geodesic domes to the neuron. One presenter is rising college junior and Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge intern, Leila Pyle, a former girl scout herself.

She’ll lead a salmon dissection and create colorful salmon prints with students.

“I love combining art and science and doing different environmental education through art,” says Pyle. “And I think that art is a really powerful communication tool and that science is very complicated and nebulous and there’s a lot of things that people have a hard time understanding, but art can be used to break through that barrier and give people a sense of wonder about things that are around them and make them want to know more.”

Students will rotate through 45-minute workshops, and the program is open to girls between ages 5 and 17, whether enrolled in Girl Scouts or not. For more information call Billeen Carlson at 907-399-1674 or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Aug 12 2015
Talk of the Rock: Ka'lunek PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
afr_logo_screen_size.gifHost Kayla Desroches sits down with Alutiiq Museum staff to talk about the organization's new publication, Kal'unek, which focuses on the archaelogical site Karluk One. Exeuctive Director April Laktonen Counceller, Curator of Collections Marnie Leist, and Curator of Archaeology Patrick G. Staltonstall discuss the site's social, archaelogical, and linguistic impact.

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