The importance of STEM programs in High School

Lakota Tech High School started its science, technology, engineering, and math program, or STEM, about four years ago. Since then it has been steadily growing.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 7:01 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - According to around 59% of Native American students do not attend a school with a computer science program, making it difficult for those students to pursue careers in technology-related fields.

Lakota Tech High School is an exception to that rule, and they don’t just have a computer lab, but a full STEM program.

Lakota Tech High School started its science, technology, engineering, and math program, or STEM, about four years ago. Since then, it has been steadily growing.

“In our first couple of years, we started off with very introduction level classes so courses like Intro to Engineering, Intro to Tech Education, basic electronics, and this year we tried to expand it out to where they could take classes like engineering, design, and development,” said Caitlin Bordeaux the STEM instructor for Lakota Tech High School.

Having more advanced courses like engineering make the students who take them much more attractive to colleges because it demonstrates the student’s ability to succeed in those fields. One student at Lakota Tech is already thinking about where he wants to enroll.

“I really enjoy it because I myself really wanna become an engineer when I grow up and go to college for that. (Where do you want to go?) I really want to go to the School of Mines,” said Raymond Chapman a student at Lakota Tech High School.

Another student says she thinks having STEM classes offered in the curriculum makes students more likely to take them.

“It could help like start off like for whatever career or job you wanna go into but don’t really have the opportunity to do it. Like you know we don’t really have time at home or school and stuff so if it’s like within the school and like it’s one of the classes then it will help a lot,” said Brandy Marshall a student at Lakota Tech High School.

Lakota Tech recently expanded its classroom space with a new wing. Bordeaux says she wants to see some of that used to add more STEM classrooms and teachers.

“I would really like to see more teachers more people coming into the school working with the kids to expand cause stem is such a big pathway. There’s so many areas to cover, so many different avenues you can go down, so for me it would be seeing more community educators come in and share their expertise with the students,” said Bordeaux.

While access to technology is still an issue for the majority of Native American students, Lakota Tech seems committed to ensuring their STEM program continues to grow.