A group that encourages teens in Lower Brule to do community research is receiving a grant from the Society for Science & the Public. Lower Brule Research works with middle and high school students who are interested in science and culture.
Lower Brule Research is the only organization in the Midwest to receive a STEM Action Grant from the Society for Science & the Public this year. Devon Riter is the executive director of Lower Brule Research. He says the five thousand dollars will help the group continue to do research based on needs in their community.
“We meet with community members every month and we kind of come up with what projects we want the kids to do over the summer, and then the kids complete those research projects,” says Riter.
Community engagement is central to the groups’ work. Jeshua Estes is one of the student researchers this summer. He’s working on a project to collect insights from local elders.
“I’m actually doing videos about elders," says Estes. "We have six or seven elders, and at the end of the summer we’re gonna have a big film festival type thing.”
Other projects have included a food waste recycling program and aquaponics research.
Gayle Kansagor is Chief Communications Officer for the Society for Science & the Public. She says Lower Brule Research stood out because of its emphasis on mentorship and service to an under-represented area. She also says the variety of projects involve STEM-related ideas.
“Whether you’re talking about health or wellness of the community, there are a lot of different elements that you might not think of as STEM—as I mentioned related to health or related to the environment," says Kansagor. "And kids are using their STEM skills and this knowledge base to help find innovative solutions to the problems in their communities."
This summer, Lower Brule Research is working on three different research projects. Director Devon Riter says they hope to expand to four projects next year.