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New teacher training at Arizona Science Center enhances quality science instruction


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  • Brian O'Malley/ Arizona Science Center

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 Summer.

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 summer.

This new 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 first cohort of teachers took part in the first training in late June and the next cohort will take place in September.

New teacher training at Arizona Science Center enhances quality science instruction IMG_2162-e1535154929895The 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.

“This has been a very refreshing and energizing experience,” says Christina Hirtzel, sixth to eighth grade teacher in Scottsdale Unified School District. “I am much more inspired by the rationality of the 5 E’s of science and the PBL approach to design a classroom experience than by a more kit-directed curriculum. Thank you sincerely for all your hard work putting the module together for us. It definitely showed.”

New teacher training at Arizona Science Center enhances quality science instruction IMG_2224-e1535155006890Participating 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.

“Improved science literacy among teachers translates to increased student engagement with and interest in science,” said Vince Yanez, Senior Vice President, Arizona Community Engagement, Helios Education Foundation “That increased engagement will lead to more students graduating from high school ready for college and career. We believe this will help increase student success and well as lead to a workforce primed for the rapidly growing number of available, high-paying STEM-focused jobs in Arizona.”

Applications are open now for the next cohorts to be held from September 25 and 26.

Applications are due by Friday, August 31, 2018 and individuals selected to participate will be notified by Friday, September 7, 2018.

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. Visit https://www.azscience.org/educators/science-teacher-residency-star-program/  to register.