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OU Researcher Uses National Academy of Education Grant to Develop Data Science Curriculum


OU Researcher Uses National Academy of Education Grant to Develop Data Science Curriculum

February 16, 2024

NORMAN, OKLA. – Richard Velasco, an assistant professor of mathematics education in the Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum, is one of 10 recipients of an Equity in Math Education Research Grant from the National Academy of Education. These grants fund pioneering projects designed to revolutionize equitable and ambitious mathematical learning experiences for K-12 students in traditionally underserved and historically marginalized communities.

“I’m originally from Guam but moved to the United States eight years ago,” Velasco said. “I was a secondary mathematics teacher there for about nine years, and I’m still very connected to the Micronesian community.”

Richard Velasco, Ph.D., OU assistant professor and EMERG grant recipient.

The grant supports Velasco’s collaboration with CHamoru, Indigenous people of the Marianas, and non-CHamoru teachers and scholars from Guam and Saipan to create high school-level data science learning modules using culturally relevant data that integrates ethno-mathematics and local sociopolitical issues.

“Our plan is to use data that's specific to the Marianas - the archipelago where Guam and Saipan are situated,” he said. “The goal of the Indigenous MINDS project is to not only get the Pacific Islander students exposed to data science but to use data that is culturally and politically relevant to them and to use data that is place-based.”

Velasco predicts that the curriculum developed through this grant will be implemented in Guam and Saipan first, then expanded more broadly based on initial feedback and refinement by his collaborative team. He also hopes to work with Norman teachers and schools throughout Oklahoma to develop data science curriculum and potentially collaborate with OU’s Native Nations Center to establish relations and develop a similar project with local tribal schools.

"Growing up in Guam as a son of immigrant parents, my philosophy has always been about giving back to your community and never forgetting where you came from,” he said. “This grant means so much to me because not only does it help me reconnect with my roots and maintain relationships with my home community, but also amplifies the brilliance that Indigenous Micronesians and other Indigenous Pacific Islanders can offer to the fields of data science and mathematics.”

About the project

Velasco’s project is titled “Amplifying Indigenous Micronesian Intelligence for Data Science (MINDS) with Culturally Relevant Data.” The National Academy of Education’s Equity in Math Education Research Grants (EMERG) Program supports individual research projects focused on learners from traditionally underserved populations, including African-American, Latine, Indigenous communities and from communities experiencing persistent inter-generational poverty. Recipients of this $100,000 grant will complete their research projects by June 2026

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. As the state’s flagship university, OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. OU was named the state’s highest-ranking university in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent Best Colleges list. For more information about the university, visit

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