Amplifying Indigenous Micronesian Intelligence for Data Science (MINDS) with Culturally Relevant Data
Richard Velasco

About the research


Equity in Math Education Research Grants

Award Year



University of Oklahoma

Primary Discipline

Mathematics Education
There has been a concerted effort to enhance K-12 students' comprehension of data concepts, and with data now integral to society, it is imperative to equip secondary school students with the knowledge and skills to navigate this data-driven era effectively. Despite the goal of "data science for all," underrepresentation in data science is a pressing concern, with no specific data for Pacific Islanders (PIs). This stark underrepresentation extends to PI communities in Micronesia, depriving the field of valuable insights into island sustainability and Indigenous knowledge systems. The mismatch between curricula in Micronesia's public schools, rooted in Eurocentric ideologies, and the cultural identities of Micronesian students further hampers their engagement with data science. Using Indigenous methodologies grounded in the CHamoru values of Inafa'maolek, the Indigenous MINDS project aims to address these issues by collaborating with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Micronesian educators and scholars in Guåhan and Saipan. Its primary objectives are to co-develop culturally relevant data science curriculum and pilot secondary-level modules tailored to the unique cultural context of these U.S. territories. By integrating culturally relevant data, the project seeks to enhance student engagement in data science, foster cultural competence in participants, and address social injustices prevalent to the Pacific region. The Indigenous MINDS project further contributes to bridging the gap in data science education, promoting diversity, and offering a culturally sensitive approach to data science for Indigenous Micronesian communities. Through collaboration and culturally relevant data integration, this project endeavors to make data science accessible and meaningful to a broader student population.
About Richard Velasco
Dr. Richard Velasco is an assistant professor of mathematics education in the Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum at the University of Oklahoma. His primary research focuses on rehumanizing mathematics by shifting the power and privilege in mathematics held by dominant groups towards those who have been historically and systemically marginalized. Dr. Velasco’s secondary research areas include STEM teacher advocacy and informal STEM learning spaces. He has published his work in various national and international journals including The Educational Forum, The Electronic Journal for Research in Science and Mathematics Education, and The International Journal of STEM Education. Prior to his role at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Velasco was recognized for teaching excellence as a secondary math teacher, receiving National Board Certification in Early Adolescent Mathematics from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching bestowed by The White House and The Office of Science and Technology Policy. Before entering higher education, he taught secondary mathematics for twelve years in Guam, where he is originally from, and Washington state. Dr. Velasco earned a dual bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education from the University of Guam, a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Saint Mary, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in STEM Education from Texas Tech University.

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