[Source: La Monica Everett-Haynes, Tucson Citizen] — Alexis Delbridge knows her students need science instruction that’s exciting and interesting. But the Lynn/Urquides Elementary School teacher has found it difficult to teach science that way in her classroom. When school begins next month, Delbridge will have an expert on hand to help: Jennifer Jandt, a University of Arizona doctoral student. Delbridge and Jandt are part of a larger program that will pair K-12 science teachers with university graduate students for the academic year.
UA’s new Biodiversity from Molecules to Ecosystems, or BioME, program is a different way of approaching K-12 science education, and it’s happening because of a five-year, $2.96 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Part of the grant is used to pay each graduate student a $30,000 stipend. This year, 20 teachers from Tucson Unified, Sunnyside, Amphitheater and Vail school districts — along with AmeriSchools, which operates several charter schools — are participating with the 10 graduate students. “I’m looking at it as a team teaching experience and allowing my fellow to help me become a scientist,” Delbridge said. “It will make me a better teacher.”
UA graduate students from various science-based departments will help develop lesson plans, create activities and initiate projects. Without these things, “we sort of kill the interest and curiosity in little kids,” said Tucson High Magnet School biology teacher Margaret Wilch. “This program is wonderful because it’s more than hands on; it’s getting in the mind.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]