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Reservation youth share tech at state summit


Governor Jay Inslee stands with Linda McLean, Ralph Rise, Eddie Cohen, MMixat Vargas-Thomas, Taylor Vargas-Thomas and Pete Palmer. – submitted photo

Nespelem Elementary School students participated in the Governor's Summit on Career Connected Learning May 31 at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, Washington, on the Microsoft Campus.

The event was also simultaneously broadcast across Washington state for viewing at 26 remote sites.

To prepare for a presentation at the summit, up to 13 Nespelem students met daily after school, working with EV 3 Lego Robots, learning coding, adding sensors and lessons with the Mars Space Challenge. The group has also explored rockets and electricity.

To enhance the development of technical skills, the students learned how to create vinyl T-shirt transfers, which exposed them to the use and operation of specialized technical equipment, including computer software, vinyl cutters and heat presses.

The Nespelem students, of elementary and middle school ages, represented the youngest group participating in Learning Labs for the Governor's Summit.

To open their presentation at the Summit, Eddie Cohen, MMixat and Taylor Vargas-Thomas introduced themselves in their Native Language. MMixat and Taylor demonstrated native dance, then all three students provided an overview of their participation in the Career Connected Learning program.

The adults, Ralph Rise, with Nespelem School; Dan Simpson, with Nespelem Valley Electric; and Linda McLean, director of WSU Colville Reservation Extension, also provided an overview of their programs' contributions to this STEM outreach effort.

Eddie and MMixat also took part in a youth panel during the general session, to answer questions about what they have learned or experienced through their participation in their respective programs.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took time to visit with the Nespelem group. The students were able to answer questions and presented the governor with T-shirts they had created and button pins with the word "Make the Best Better" written in Salish. "Make the Best Better" is the motto for the 4-H Positive Youth Development Program.

Rise, a science teacher with Nespelem School District, has been working in a collaborative effort with Nespelem Valley Electric, UW NASA Space Consortium, and WSU Colville Reservation Extension 4-H OJJDP Mentoring Program to encourage students to enhance their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills and to help them to make connections to future careers.

More information about 4-H or Extension outreach programs is available from the Colville Reservation WSU Extension Office at (509) 634-2304.


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