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How Do You Get Water from the Bottom of a Canyon to the Top? Do the Math!

Thursday, Aug. 02, 2012

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Some 30, mostly Native American, high school students get the opportunity to learn basic math and science principles while dealing with a very real problem: moving water.

Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah Blanding Campus is hosting a basic math workshop Aug. 6-10 that gives high school students and incoming college freshmen the chance to hone their problem solving and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills. They are being asked to help figure out a way to transfer water from a spring at the bottom of Westwater Canyon up to a traditional Navajo and Ute community that has never had running water in all its decades of existence.

It’s learning by doing in the behalf of a community that is literally in the back yard of the USU Eastern Blanding Campus. It lies directly across the canyon less than a half mile away.

The four-day workshop is made possible through a grant from the Native American Serving Non Tribal Institution (NASNTI). Students can expect to learn basic math and science principles in a meaningful context as they try to solve very real problems. While they will not actually build any real water conveyance to the tribal community, it does provide a springboard for possible joint campus and community projects, said James Barta, director of the USU Eastern Blanding Campus School of Teacher Education and Leadership.

“We envision this collaborative planning and teaching as a model of cutting edge instruction and as a springboard for possible joint campus and community projects,” Barta said. “It may include written grant proposals for similar future STEM efforts and perhaps designing new courses where students can earn college credit in multi-subject STEM classes.”

Barta said the workshop, “Water of Life: Springs of Learning,” will be intensive with lots of activities and variations for the students that will include math assessments to evaluate their competencies. The students will then be given individualized targeted instruction in areas where they are deficient.

“This is one of our main objectives,” Barta said. “I am very excited to be part of this challenge and I believe that we can present an exciting model for teaching and learning at USU Eastern.”

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Contacts: Curtis Frazier, 435-678-8129;; Dr. Jim Barta, 435-678-8512;; Stephanie Atkinson, 435-678-8215;

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