The miniature student-made cars raced at a recent science camp might lose wheels or engine power, but they were nudged across a makeshift finish line with a little help from the students and their friends.

In some ways, a similar process applied to the students themselves. Despite fears and concerns, they learned they could overcome obstacles with a little help from their friends and mentors—in this case, at the 2013 Native American STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Institute, funded by the National Academy of Engineering.

The solar-powered race cars were only one project for the 30-plus middle school students from various tribes who came to Colorado State University in Fort Collins for the Institute (referred to as a “camp” by the attendees) June 23-29.

“It’s about giving students a college experience—being able to live awhile on the campus and be around a learning environment,” said Ty Smith, Diné, director of CSU’s Native Cultural Center. “It’s unique—the students have the opportunity to learn what is going on in the world of renewable energy.”



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