Omaha STEM Ecosystem and UNO Mathematics Dept’s “Math Series”, Provides K-12 Teacher Support

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The latest issue of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s “Pride of Place” magazine features the story of Preska Hinapa Wi Poor Bear and her experience with the UNO/Zoo STEM Initiative.

You can see math, she says, in all the circles of the Earth.

In the sun, stars and moon …

In the rivers, rain and sea …

In the birth, life and death of all the creatures of the Earth.

“Math is in everything,” says Pteska Hinapa Wi Poor Bear, a fourth-grade teacher in Omaha who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Hocoka Wakan – that’s a Lakota word that means “the Sacred Circle.”

“The Sacred Circle connects everything. It is continuous, and it just goes and goes and goes.”

Poor Bear saw math in everything one night this past November at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha as she and other teachers took part in the “Math Teachers Circle – Math in the Aquarium,” a community outreach program sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the zoo.

The program, an ongoing series of hands-on events for teachers, is part of the Omaha STEM Ecosystem, a citywide partnership led by UNO and the HenryDoorly Zoo, that connects Omaha-area K-12 teachers with exciting new ways to teach STEM lessons to their students through classes at the zoo. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.)

Poor Bear and the other teachers took a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium guided by one of the zoo’s marine biologists, who used many STEM words as he talked about the technical side of keeping all the creatures alive.

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