We all know summers are short. Summers are even shorter for teachers. Between summer school, meetings and preparing for a new set of students, teachers are lucky to get three weeks. That’s what makes 33 local teachers even more amazing.
Recently, teachers spent a week learning how to incorporate STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, into their classrooms. STEM education is an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to learning that engages students in critical thinking, problem solving, creative and collaborative skills through cross-disciplinary focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM integrated education ultimately establishes connections between the school, work place, community, and the global economy.
The weeklong “Biology Boot Camp” was a collaborative effort designed by the Navajo County Education Service Agency, Northland Pioneer College, White Mountain Nature Center, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Petrified Forest National Park and funded by a competitive grant by Arizona Department of Education.
Based on the real-world problem of protecting the endangered leopard frog, teachers engaged in hands-on, problem-based learning. In the mornings, teachers took water samples from Big Springs Environmental Study Area and made 3D models of plant and animal cells. In the afternoons, they worked in the lab at the college to analyze the samples in digital microscopes.
“I love professional development. It gets me pumped up for the upcoming school year,” teacher Marie Caldwell said. “(We) learned a lot and had a great time learning with fellow teachers: collecting water samples, observing nature, checking pH, learning basic chemistry and measuring seedlings.”
Biology Boot Camp was just the start to what will be a yearlong focus on STEM in the classrooms. Future weekend workshops will focus on bio-mimicry, engineering and using digital probes to test aquatic environments.
For more photos and a better insight into Biology Boot Camp, search Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #BiologyBootCamp.