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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    K-12 teachers to gain more science knowledge

    Play-Doh planets. Biospheres in a bottle. Insects, dead and alive. Appropriate for a wacky daytime children’s program, but for a series of workshops for adults?

    More than 160 science teachers statewide will experience just that when they participate in the second annual Arizona K-12 Science Teacher Symposium hosted tomorrow by the UA’s BIO5 Institute.

    The event will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and teachers participating will receive eight hours toward their recertification.

    “”The symposium is designed to connect K-12 teachers from across the state with science education resources that they can bring to their classrooms to help get their students excited about science,”” said Stacey Forsyth, director of education outreach for BIO5.

    BIO5 is a research institute that brings together the efforts of five different disciplines: agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, basic science and engineering. The institute’s members work together to solve contemporary biological issues.

    “”We want to expose K-12 teachers to the exciting life sciences research that is happening here in their own state,”” Forsyth said.

    The institute brainstormed the idea for the symposium a couple of years ago, said Deborah Daun, director of communications for BIO5.

    The event was created to connect K-12 educators in Arizona with the resources they need to train their students for science in the 21st century, she said.

    The symposium is directed toward science teachers in particular because of the increasing demand to create a biosciences economy in Arizona, she said.

    To do that, the state needs to train a workforce that could operate such an economy, which requires the enhancement of math and science programs, she said.

    “”Currently, there is a big need for math and science teachers in the state,”” Daun said. “”Teachers who are teaching outside of their main subject area now need to strengthen their science background.””

    The symposium will feature two morning and afternoon workshop sessions, as well as tours of BIO5’s laboratories, networking opportunities and a keynote address given by BIO5 member Walt Klimecki, a research assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy.

    Each workshop session will last two hours and focus on various experiments and techniques to cultivate interest and enthusiasm in science among young students.

    The workshops will be run by coordinators and educators from various interdisciplinary programs at the UA such as the Phoenix Mars Mission and Biosphere 2.

    “”The symposium is a terrific example of the cross-campus collaboration we have here at UA,”” Forsyth said.

    The workshops will be tailored to the specific grades – so high school teachers won’t be learning how to make planets out of clay – but every technique learned in the workshops meet Arizona science standards and can be implemented in the classroom.

    Aside from the elementary school projects K-3 teachers will learn at the symposium, workshops will cover areas like scientific inquiry, neurological disorders and labs that use cooking to illustrate scientific principles.

    One morning workshop, “”Dracula Had Rabies,”” will teach high school educators about rabies and other viruses.

    Teacher registration rose from the 100 participants who attended the 2007 symposium.

    “”Many of this year’s registrants came last year and enjoyed it,”” Forsyth said. “”We think much of the increase is due to teachers mentioning the event to their friends and colleagues.””

    Forsyth added that teachers were grateful for the chance to connect with other teachers in Arizona.

    “”Teachers don’t often have the opportunity to network with their colleagues, particularly teachers in other schools or districts,”” she said. “”Last year, teachers very much appreciated the opportunity to meet other teachers and learn what others are doing in the classroom.

    Late registration for the event is $40. For more information, go to www.bio5.org.

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