Astronomy and Geology Vocabulary, I.e. "NASA Words" in Native American Languages

Friday, 19 December 2014
Andrea Angrum, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, Claudia J Alexander, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States and Melba Martin, Chinle Unified School District, Chinle, AZ, United States
The US Rosetta Project has developed a program in Native American communities in which contemporary STEM vocabulary is taught alongside the same vocabulary in Navajo. NASA images and science are used and described in the native language, alongside both lay English, and scientific English. Additionally, science curriculum (geology/chemistry/botany/physics) elements drawn from the reservation environment, including geomorphology, geochemistry, soil physics, are included and discussed in the native language as much as possible — with their analogs in other planetary environments (such as Mars). The program began with a student defining 30 Navajo words to describe what he called ‘NASA’ words, such as: cell phone, astronaut, space suit, computer, and planets not visible to the naked eye. The use of NASA material and imagery have a positive impact on the accessibility of the overall STEM material but community involvement, and buy-in, is criti! cal to the success of the program. The US Rosetta Project modified its goals, and curriculum, to accommodate the programmatic desires of teachers in the district, and the capabilities of the medicine men that agreed to participate. In this presentation we will report on lessons learned, as well as metrics and successes associated with our most recent Summer Science Academy [2014].