CAREER Award: Broadening Perspectives of Science, Technology, and Culture Through Community-Driven Design of Place-Based Storytelling Experiences

June 1st, 2020 - May 31st, 2025 | PROJECT

As new technologies continue to dominate the world, access to and participation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and computing has become a critical focus of education research, practice, and policy. This issue is exceptionally relevant for American Indians, who remain underrepresented as only 0.2% of the STEM workforce, even though they make up 2% of the U.S. population. In response to this need, this Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) project takes a community-driven design approach, a collaborative design process in which Indigenous partners maintain sovereignty as designers, to collaboratively create three place-based storytelling experiences, stories told in historical and cultural places through location-based media. The place-based storytelling experiences will be digital installations at three culturally, politically, and historically significant sites in the local community where the public can engage with Indigenous science. The work is being done in partnership with the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation (NWBSN).

The principal investigator and the NWBSN will investigate: (a) what are effective strategies and processes to conduct community-driven design with Indigenous partners?; (b) how does designing place-based storytelling experiences develop tribal members' design, technical, and computational skills?; (c) how does designing these experiences impact tribal members' scientific, technological, and cultural identities? The goals are to establish a process of community-driven design, build infrastructure to support this process, and understand how this methodological approach can result in culturally-appropriate ways to engage with science through technology. The principal investigator will work with the tribe to complete three intergenerational design cycles (a design cycle is made up of multiple design iterations). Each design cycle will result in one place-based storytelling experience. The goal is to include roughly 15 youth (ages 6-18), 10 Elders, and 10 other community members (i.e. members ages 18-50, likely parents) in each design cycle (35 tribal members total). Some designers are likely to participate in multiple design cycles. The tribe currently has 48 youth ages 6-18 and the project aims to engage at least 30 across all three design cycles. Over four years of designing three different experiences, the NWBSN aims to recruit at least 100 tribal members (just under 20% of the tribe) to make contributions (as designers, storytellers, or to provide cultural artifacts or design feedback).

This CAREER award is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

2022 STEM for All Video Showcase Video: Daigwade: A journey toward understanding culture in research

Team Members

Breanne Litts, Principal Investigator, Utah State University


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1943630
Funding Amount: $246,219


Access and Inclusion: Ethnic | Racial | Indigenous and Tribal Communities
Audience: Adults | Elementary School Children (6-10) | General Public | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers | Seniors | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: General STEM | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Exhibitions | Parks | Outdoor | Garden Exhibits | Public Programs