COS 59-10 - TOCC Plant Atlas:  A tool for integrating traditional ecological knowledge into science curricula

Tuesday, August 7, 2012: 4:40 PM
D139, Oregon Convention Center
Teresa L. Newberry, Tohono O'odham Community College, Sells, AZ
Background/Question/Methods: Science curriculum designed to be relevant to the culture of Native students is essential for developing the local experts and scientifically-literate populace needed to address scientific challenges faced by Native communities.  At Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC), a tribal college, the science curriculum has been developed under the premise that science is part of the cultural heritage of each student, as every culture has relied upon processes for gathering and making meaning of information about the natural world. Specifically, the “TOCC Plant Atlas” is a web-based teaching tool that provides a visually rich and culturally-relevant medium to relate native knowledge to scientific knowledge.  The Atlas includes extensive imagery of numerous species of Sonoran Desert flora for multi-scale description and identification of plants. It merges Tohono O'odham traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge through the inclusion of the Tohono O’odham names as well as the scientific name of plants.   The Plant Atlas includes audio of the Tohono O’odham names spoken by a native speaker, which strengthens its role in Tohono O’odham language preservation.

Results/Conclusions:   The TOCC Plant Atlas is an effective tool for teaching plant ecology in a culturally-relevant manner.  In addition, it is an important medium for cultural and language preservation.