In response to the need to expand access to high-quality professional development for Arizona’s science teachers, Arizona Science Center launched the Science Teacher Residency (STaR) program earlier this year.
This STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teacher training program, generously supported by Helios Education Foundation, provides instruction and mentoring to third through eighth grade teachers at no cost to them. The next cohort focused on life science will begin in late January, but applications are due by Friday, December 8.
The three-year grant from Helios Education Foundation seeks to remove all barriers, many of which are cost-related, for teachers who are looking for STEM training. The STaR program relieves the financial burden, covering all costs related to attendance, including travel, materials, and a stipend equivalent to funding a substitute for their classroom.
In order to provide resources to the most underserved students in the state, participants in the STaR program must be educators who work in Arizona schools that qualify for Title I services, have a large Latino and/or Native American population, and/or are located in rural Arizona.
The innovative, hands-on program starts with five days of instruction at the Science Center led by expert facilitators and content specialists. This training focuses on correcting common misconceptions about STEM subjects that are often taught in the classroom, and giving participants the tools to take those same lessons back to their schools. Teachers also participate in two days of field trips at local businesses to showcase the practical application of STEM and connect them with professionals who use STEM in their jobs every day. The goal is for those professionals to later be guest speakers in their classrooms, or to help coordinate class visits to their workplace.
“At the beginning of this training I realized I had some misconceptions about project based learning, STEM, the five E’s of science (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate) and the EDP,” says Veronica Ramirez, third grade teacher at Biltmore Prep Academy. “Attending this training made it very clear that all of these are connected in some way. The activities we participated in helped me clear some of the misconceptions I had and in turn made me excited about implementing these science processes into my teaching.”
Participating teachers also receive a year of individualized mentoring and coaching as part of STaR. At the end of the program, they will walk away with all materials needed to create lesson plans to effectively teach what they learned.
Mileage and accommodations will be reimbursed for those traveling more than 50 miles to Arizona Science Center. If you have any questions regarding the program, please contact STR@azscience.org or visit https://www.azscience.org/educators/science-teacher-residency-star-program/ to register.