Water Network for Team STEM (WaNTS)

Ethan Allen, PhD, Co-PI, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL)

Program Description

The Water Network for Team STEM (WaNTS) project nurtures greater participation of Indigenous Pacific Islanders in STEM fields, facilitated by a collective impact model that employs the locally meaningful topic of clean drinking water as a vehicle for both K–12 engagement and broader community organization and action. Intergenerational and cross-jurisdiction networking melds Western STEM with local ecological knowledge, empowering Inclusive Informal Science Learning Teams (IISLTs), Advisory Groups, and multiple, local, school-based Water Quality Management Teams (WQMTs), impacting thousands of residents. A repository of locally applicable educational materials is being created, maintained, and disseminated.

Program Purpose

Bring diverse sectors of communities together to learn fundamental applications of STEM towards improving access to potable water.

Program Goals

  1. Enhance STEM learning to meet a critical challenge by building broad public understanding of core water science and engineering issues, including critical concepts of water budgeting, engaging formal and informal science education providers.
  2. Engender community action towards science, engineering, and education for sustainability (SEES), strengthening self-sustainability and resilience of communities, and enhancing Disaster Risk Reduction capabilities in terms of water security.
  3. Broaden participation in STEM learning, fine-tuning, further developing, and more broadly applying a powerful, innovative model of collective impact developed through Water for Life (WfL) to address the complex, water-related societal issues that are of compelling interest and relevance to local residents.

Program Activities:

  • Use water as a highly relevant "hook" that is meaningful to everyone's lives in order to engage and work with the broadest possible range of individuals in both general STEM learning and understanding and applying the underlying science of water, particularly how to measure, maintain, and improve both the quality and quantity of water resources.
  • Engage K-12, IHE, and informal educators and a broad range of community members in using water issues to understand how to build effective and integrated community action towards SEES and enhance DRR capabilities.
  • Empower local communities through water literacy to make better informed, evidence-based decisions that account for and balance the needs of diverse stakeholder groups.
  • Further advance the inclusion of underrepresented learners in STEM fields by refining and further demonstrating the collective impact that arises from nurturing strategic collaborations among diverse sectors of remote and rural communities toward issues of common concern.
  • Provide specific guidance about what sorts of approaches work most effectively in what situations and how, when, and where to bring stakeholders together to best achieve desired results.

Necessary Resources

  • Sufficient funding to run the program.

Program Costs and ROI

  • Average yearly costs to maintain this initiative: About $150,000 per year

Future Work

WaNTS is benefitting society and contributing to the attainment of desired social outcomes:

  1. Increasing opportunities for ~6,500 students from underserved and underrepresented Indigenous Pacific Islander communities to engage in STEM learning and to become eligible in greater numbers for STEM careers
  2. Enhancing networks and opportunities to broaden participation in STEM education and careers in the USAPI, a region that is experiencing a significant loss of local workforce capacity because of out-migration
  3. Building community resiliency through Advisory Groups, IISLTs, and WQMTs to collectively resolve emerging water crises not just locally, but also regionally and potentially beyond
  4. Fostering capacities among diverse constituencies in remote communities to work effectively and collaboratively to make better-informed decisions that reflect the needs and constraints of the fully array of community stakeholders.

References and Accessory Materials

Water Network for Team STEM Summary

WaNTS Year 1 Poster (Acrobat (PDF) 1.2MB Apr23 19)

WaNTS INCLUDES Interim Report (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 82kB Apr23 19)