Children of the Stars
168 pages, 6 x 9
36 b&w images. Bibliography.
Paperback
Release Date:18 May 2022
ISBN:9780870712012
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Children of the Stars

Indigenous Science Education in a Reservation Classroom

Oregon State University Press
In the 1990s, Ed Galindo (Yaqui), a high school science teacher on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho, took a team of Shoshone-Bannock students first to Johnson Space Center in Texas and then to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. These students had entered a project in a competitive NASA program that was usually intended for college students—and they earned a spot to see NASA astronauts test out their experiment in space. The students designed and built the project themselves: a system to mix phosphate and water in space to create a fertilizer that would aid explorers in growing food on other planets.
 
In Children of the Stars, Galindo narrates his experience with this first team and with successive student teams, who continued to participate in NASA programs over the course of a decade. This is a story indelibly grounded in place and Indigenous communities: students chose a project influenced by their local knowledge of and easy access to phosphate fertilizer (mined on the reservation); found creative ways to build their project with cheap materials, often donated by local businesses; raised funds in the tribe and community to cover travel expenses; asked questions about space exploration and agriculture based on their own understanding of the colonization of North America; and involved their families at every step. Galindo discusses the challenges of teaching Indigenous students: understanding the practical limits of a rural reservation school, the importance of community and family support, respecting and incorporating Indigenous knowledge systems, and meeting students where they are in order to help them succeed. In describing how he had to earn the trust of his students to truly be successful as their teacher, Galindo also touches on the complexities of community belonging and understanding; although Indigenous himself, Galindo is not a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and was still an outsider who had as much to learn as the students.
 
Written in a conversational style, Children of the Stars is an accessible story of success, of students who were supported and educated in culturally relevant ways and so overcame the limitations of an underfunded reservation school to reach (literal) great heights.
 
Ed Galindo (Yaqui) is Associate Director for Education and Diversity at the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium and former faculty member at the University of Idaho and affiliate faculty at Idaho State University and Utah State University. During his career as a high school science teacher, he was twice named National Indian Teacher of the Year by the National Indian School Board Association.

Lori Lambert (Abenaki/Mi’kmaq) is a community research associate with Montana State University and author of Research for Indigenous Survival: Indigenous Research Methodologies in the Behavioral Sciences (Salish-Kootenai College Press, 2014).
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