Through a Governor’s Initiative, Arizona Science Center Provides Professional Learning and Development to Educational Leaders and Teachers Supporting Research-based Practices in Teaching and Learning

Dr. Sharon A. Kortman, Senior Vice President of Learning, Arizona Science Center

Educators are facing a critical time in the learning and development of our youth.  The need for a STEM-literate and STEM-skilled (science, technology, engineering, math) population is ever-increasing to respond to the global challenges of the 21st century.

Research indicates that the number one factor for student achievement is teacher quality, and the number one influence on teacher quality is effective professional development.  There is a need for professional development to incorporate a STEM focus, preparing teachers to integrate content in ways that increase the students’ abilities to practice problem-solving skills and research-based processes for inquiry and collaboration, and engage in scientific and engineering practices through project-based and problem-based STEM learning.

Through an initiative with the Governor’s office, professional learning and development will be provided to teachers and educational leaders to build capacity for research-based models of STEM instruction.  The trainings will include:

1) Alignment of STEM and English Language Arts instruction using the Science and Engineering Practices, Cross-cutting Concepts, and Science Content from the Next Generation Science Standards Framework to produce quality, real-world problem-based learning for all students.

2) Support in the building of a fair at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to compete at local levels and advance to the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair, and potentially to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

3) Designing research classes to support student inquiry and research while partnering with researchers and scientists from higher education or business and industry.

Producing great teachers and great leaders is a developmental process and we are responding to this state-wide need for educational excellence with our expertise in models of STEM teaching and learning as well as our programs and partnerships.  As the new host organization for the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair, we are also building opportunity for the youth of Arizona to engage in scientific research and demonstrate their learning, discoveries, research, and innovations.

Training educators provides an opportunity to deepen instructional practices for all students.  It assists in establishing models for STEM teaching and learning that can equate to a competitive advantage for our youth in their ongoing pursuits for college and career readiness.  Our Arizona teachers need the professional development to engage in the very models of learning to increase their confidence as well as their competence in teaching practices.  The benefit will be students who are able to engage with a higher cognitive demand of questioning, investigating, researching, developing solutions, testing, analyzing, and communicating results and next steps to continue to solve the challenges of our world.


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