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Na-ha-shnee STEAM Instructors and Counselors Share Their Insights

Kat LynchKatherine (Kat) Lynch
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences,
Research Technologist

What was your role specific to Na’ha’shnee STEAM?

As a research technologist, I am used to an amorphous day, my role with Na’ha’shnee STEAM was similar. Outside of WSU, I host kids STEM activities at libraries and adult fact-finding seminars with my group “Science Speaks, Spokane.” The summer of 2020 with Na’ha’shnee STEAM combined all my normal activities into one three-week event! I helped plan everything from shipping timelines, to ordering lists, to educational lesson plans. I even got to do the teaching, experimenting, and questioning with the students! The role I had this summer had no specific title, but I like to think of it as “I was a lab/STEM guide” for these students.

What stood out to you in terms of students’ experiences this summer?

In summer 2020, these students did not get the opportunity to tour our lab, but we were able to send some lab experiments to them and showcase STEAM careers virtually. The biggest impact of this summer, to me, was seeing the students be inquisitive about their surroundings: one student swabbed their dog’s mouth and fur to answer some hypotheses about cleanliness; another student tested household cleaning solutions to find out which killed bacteria the best! The second biggest achievement of this program, I believe, was the increase in confidence seen in the students. Na’ha’shnee STEAM allowed these students to interact with professionals in a wide variety of fields. Seeing the students transition from very few questions to many questions and interacting during the experiments confirmed they were gaining confidence throughout the summer. Teaching kids they can be and do anything will allow them to succeed, showing them this is what our program succeeded at!

Ben PorterKen Porter
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences,
Research Technologist

What was your role specific to Na-ha-shnee STEAM?

I helped in the development of the program mostly due to my efforts outside of WSU. I have been independently working with Kat Lynch to facilitate science outreach and education in our local community here in Spokane. The early stages of the program were during a more optimistic time in the year when a traditional face-to-face program was still assumed, and initial meetings involved most of the core lab staff and several faculty members. By the time the format changed to remote learning, the number of involved people had dropped drastically and as a result I was very involved in most aspects. I worked on the initial conceptualization and planning, the specific design and troubleshooting of the lab-based experiments, the preparation of the lab materials that we sent to the students, and the presentation of scientific concepts.

What stood out to you in terms of students’ experiences this summer?

The students had a wide range of experience and knowledge of science but even with that in mind, the level of interest and excitement was consistent across the group. Their experiments utilized investigation of their surroundings, so what they were studying was immediately relevant to them, and they got to use their own creativity. It was nice seeing the students experience how fun it is to learn about the world around them. For instance, when an experiment called for surface swabbing their environment, students swabbed everything from their toilets, to their dogs, to their siblings.

Na-ha-shnee STEAM Counselor Perspectives

Will JamesDr. Wil James: Our summer programs brought scholars together from many indigenous backgrounds and tribes along the spectrum of educational backgrounds from high school students all the way to current medical students. I was honored to have been able to interact with our scholars sharing cultural perceptions and debriefing discussions on their personal experiences with lateral and historical trauma while identifying that legacy into the present reality of Indian Health Policy in the arena of persistently measured health disparities. Joy was found in sharing of cultural practices and shared experiences via Zoom with Evanlene’s presentation of the stick game and doll making a favorite for many.

Each student presented their experience and communicated many deep positives that will feed their spirits on their scholarly journey. I witnessed academic deep collegial compassion and commitment to pursing academic excellence with an intention to serve our communities in the future. In a sense we are all healers charged with first becoming whole and then expanding our practice to influence others.

Alexa FayAlexa Fay: I had the immense honor of being the program assistant for Native American Health Sciences. I recently graduated with my bachelor of science in Nursing from WSU and am now working as a registered nurse in a psychiatric inpatient setting in Seattle, WA. I loved getting to work with our Na-ha-shnee STEAM Health students, and am so proud of them for staying engaged and resilient through our online Institute, which is not an easy feat!



Breanne RagleBreanne Ragle: I am one of the program assistants for Native American Health Sciences. I just graduated from WSU Spokane this past spring with my bachelor’s in Speech and Hearing Sciences and with this I hope to go on to graduate school and become a speech therapist. Being a part of the Na-ha-shnee STEAM Health Institute was an amazing honor and I am so glad that I had this opportunity.



Evnalene Melting TallowEvanlene Melting Tallow,
Blackfeet/Blood (Kainai)
Native American Health Sciences Outreach Coordinator
Na-ha-shnee Institute Coordinator

The challenge to merge the two programs together and create a three-week virtual camp came with many learning curves. Yet, the Native American Health Sciences team, with support from WSU Health Sciences Spokane Information Technology Services team, developed a successful online learning opportunity for 26 Native American students this summer. Both programs packed the three weeks with lectures and hands-on experiences. Na-ha-shnee programing was based on WSU Health Sciences programs and Allied Health, and STEAM components were based on research. The participants had supplies, culture kits and science kits mailed to their home addresses. The overall experience for the NAHS team, staff, faculty, visiting faculty and 26 students was positive and we consider it a huge accomplishment. I personally enjoyed the Native high school students with their willingness to share their stories and participate in all the hands-on experiences virtually.