NASA SciAct STEM Ecosystem’s Rural Arizona STEM Professional Learning Cohort

NASA SciAct STEM Ecosystem’s Rural Arizona STEM Professional Learning Cohort

NASA’s Science Activation STEM Ecosystems project empowers STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) partnerships across the United States to broaden participation in authentic STEM through community-wide collaborations. The Rural Activation and Innovation Network brings authentic Earth and space science learning experiences to learners across Arizona through partnerships with NASA, local educators, and local STEM and community organizations. To support professional development for science teachers and improve science education in rural areas of Arizona, Kal Mannis (Senior Director of Rural Engagement, Arizona Science Center), Anna Pawlow (Director of STEM Literacy & Curriculum, Society for Science), Eric Proctor (Wildlife Education Coordinator, Arizona Game and Fish Department), and Ty White (Science Teacher, Willcox High School) created the Rural Arizona STEM Professional Learning Cohort (PLC). The newly formed PLC holds regular virtual meetings and organizes experiential learning STEM field trips around the state for members. The field trips introduce teachers to local subject matter experts, STEM institutions, and STEM career opportunities that are relevant to rural communities and help the teachers identify opportunities to incorporate these assets into their classrooms. 

The PLC’s first field trip was held in December, 2022, at the University of Arizona’s San Xavier Mining Laboratory. Teachers learned about Arizona geology and mine safety, explored research mines on a guided tour, worked with mining engineers to collect data from a core sample hole, learned about workforce pathways for students, and took home classroom curricular connections and information about educational opportunities for their students. Anna Pawlow and Kal Mannis hosted the group with support from the Burton Family Foundation.

NASA's Science Activation STEM Ecosystems project is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number 80NSSC210007 and is part of NASA’s Science Activation Portfolio. Learn more about how Science Activation connects NASA science experts, real content, and experiences with community leaders to do science in ways that activate minds and promote deeper understanding of our world and beyond:

A small group of people wearing safety gear walk into a mine shaft.

Educators enter a mine shaft that is part of the University of Arizona’s San Xavier Mining Laboratory.