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Cultural Relevance in Chemistry Education: Snow Chemistry and the Iñupiaq Community

  • Jeffrey L. Spencer
    Jeffrey L. Spencer
    Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States
  • Danielle N. Maxwell
    Danielle N. Maxwell
    Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States
  • Kaare Ray Sikuaq Erickson
    Kaare Ray Sikuaq Erickson
    Ikaaġun Engagement, Anchorage, Alaska 99523, United States
  • Daniel Wall
    Daniel Wall
    Department of Academic Affairs, Iḷisaġvik College, Utqiaġvik, Alaska 99723, United States
    More by Daniel Wall
  • Linda Nicholas-Figueroa*
    Linda Nicholas-Figueroa
    Department of Academic Affairs, Iḷisaġvik College, Utqiaġvik, Alaska 99723, United States
    *Email: [email protected]
  • Kerri A. Pratt*
    Kerri A. Pratt
    Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States
    Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States
    *Email: [email protected]
  • , and 
  • Ginger V. Shultz*
    Ginger V. Shultz
    Department of Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States
    *Email: [email protected]
Cite this: J. Chem. Educ. 2022, 99, 1, 363–372
Publication Date (Web):September 30, 2021
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.1c00480
Copyright © 2021 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.

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    Abstract

    Abstract Image

    U.S. education generally portrays science from the Western perspective. As a result, students from different cultures, also referred to as nonmajority students, often struggle to relate material learned in class to their own cultures and lived experiences. Cultural relevance is gaining momentum in broader education reform movements to relate content in the classroom to students’ cultures and worldviews. Even with this momentum, examples of implementing culturally relevant instruction remain sparse in science education, and in chemistry education in particular. This article outlines a collaboration between Iḷisaġvik College, a tribal college in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, and the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to learn more about how culture and context influence the design and implementation of culturally relevant curricular materials for introductory chemistry. Throughout the ongoing process, students work with community members, Elders, and scientists to develop an environmental chemistry research project focused on integrating local, cultural, and scientific resources to explore Arctic snow processes. Participating students engaged in a three-part unit, including information gathering from cultural and scientific resources to develop research questions, collecting and analyzing samples from the local area using analytical methods, and interpreting the data and communicating results to the greater community. Here we outline the design considerations used to construct and implement a culturally relevant chemistry unit. We describe activities where students cultivated relationships with the community and identified resources to inform their research design and classroom interactions. We also detail how culturally relevant education relates to the unit and identify areas where we are still growing as we engage in the design process. Finally, this project demonstrates how a student-driven environmental chemistry project can connect introductory science students to their community while engaging in authentic research practices.

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    Cited By

    This article is cited by 6 publications.

    1. Raghunath O. Ramabhadran . Chemical Education at the Doctoral Level: Strategies to Empower Ph.D. Students to Publish Research Papers Independently. , 107-125. https://doi.org/10.1021/bk-2023-1448.ch008
    2. Yingying Liang, Meijiao Li, Cuijie Tian, Hongbo Li. Study Reporting an Elective Chemistry Course Titled “The Mysteries of Chemistry in Intangible Cultural Heritage” to Fulfill the Vision of Science Literacy. Journal of Chemical Education 2023, 100 (7) , 2654-2663. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.2c01248
    3. Sibrina Collins, Tiffany Steele, Michelle Nelson. Storytelling as Pedagogy: The Power of Chemistry Stories as a Tool for Classroom Engagement. Journal of Chemical Education 2023, 100 (7) , 2664-2672. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.3c00008
    4. Danielle N. Maxwell, Jeffrey L. Spencer, Ethan A. Teich, Madeline Cooke, Braeden Fromwiller, Nathan Peterson, Linda Nicholas-Figueroa, Ginger V. Shultz, Kerri A. Pratt. A Guided-Inquiry Activity for Introducing Students to Figures from Primary Scientific Literature. Journal of Chemical Education 2023, 100 (5) , 1788-1795. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.2c00605
    5. Danica A. Nowosielski. Who’s That Scientist? A Scientist Report Writing Assignment for General Chemistry Students. Journal of Chemical Education 2023, 100 (5) , 1822-1830. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.2c00947
    6. Fabiana Cardetti, Manuela Wagner, Fatma Selampinar, Christian Brückner, Mark Peczuh. Intercultural Competence for International Teaching Assistants: Embracing Cultural Differences for an Improved Inclusive Undergraduate Student Learning Experience in Chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education 2022, 99 (1) , 317-322. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.1c00417

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