Biosphere 2 rises from the desert foothills north of Tucson. Originally designed as an airtight replica of the earth’s environment, B2 was intended as an experiment to see how a small group of people could live in a closed system for an extended period.
B2 was transformed into a world-class research facility and education center by Columbia University, whose researchers were instrumental in drawing attention to the study of climate change. Under the present direction of the University of Arizona, B2 resources offer programs that utilize the facility’s unique infrastructure to bridge the gap between laboratory-scale and field studies, with a focus on two principal areas: water & climate; and energy & sustainability.
That translates to unparalleled opportunities to explore complex questions in earth sciences that could not be answered anywhere else on Earth – and now unparalleled opportunities for teachers to become researches and scientists.
This unique test tube for studying the environment is the perfect home for the Arizona Center for STEM Teachers (ACST). Created through a 3-year grant from Science Foundation Arizona, the ACST:
- Provides professional STEM curriculum development support
- Helps STEM teachers acquire and develop engaging content
- Provides research and collaboration opportunities with statewide support
- Raises awareness of STEM challenges and increases teacher engagement.
In order to achieve a broad and significant impact on STEM education in the State of Arizona, the ACST has been built around 5 interrelated components:
- Intensive summer programs incorporating research projects & curriculum development
- Weekend coursework for building STEM education content
- Training of B2 Master Teachers to provide STEM coaching and mentoring
- Web-based resources available to STEM teachers throughout Arizona
- Ongoing, partner-based outreach by B2 personnel to schools across Arizona
While housed at B2, the Center’s programs are managed by a group of National Board certified, Master Teachers from schools across Arizona — dedicated to helping enhance the skills of fellow STEM teachers. These teachers build and manage the ACST professional development opportunities to ensure that participant research experiences translate directly to the classroom with a goal toward increasing student achievement in mathematics and science.
At a recent summer program — What’s the Big Idea? — teams of K?3 teachers from across Arizona gave presentations on topics including Algae Growth; Water Conservation and Purification; Insect Diversity; Cockroaches; Soil Quality; and Plant Growth.