Arizona Science Center Spearheads Statewide and National Efforts to Transform STEM Teaching and Learning

Distinctive initiatives will include immersive teacher residencies, STEM-rich afterschool making programs, and a partnership with libraries to engage young children through science

Phoenix, AZ, Sept. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

PHOENIX, AZ – As schools and districts across the nation search for solutions this school year to a growing teacher shortage and inequitable access to STEM learning experiences, they can turn to a science center in Phoenix for answers. Arizona Science Center’s Learning Team offers a variety of cutting-edge programs and initiatives this year that not only inspire and engage young people through science, but also equip educators with the tools, resources, and subject matter expertise they need to thrive in the classroom. 

Its educational programs reached more than 300,000 young people, teachers, and families throughout the state last year.

“Here at Arizona Science Center, we strive to not only serve as a fun place to visit, but also a statewide hub for learning, creativity, and innovation that bring science and STEM learning to life,” said Chevy Humphrey, Hazel A. Hare President and CEO of Arizona Science Center. 

“Amid challenges to retain more STEM teachers and bring STEM learning experiences to our underserved communities, we make it our mission to bring that hub of knowledge and expertise to assorted issues that schools and districts may face.”

For example, Arizona has grappled with teacher shortages that leave one in five students with educators that lack formal math training—and one in three with educators that lack a science background; ratios that are even more glaring in rural and hard-to-reach areas. As a result, the Science Center created the Science Teacher Residency program, an immersive professional development initiative that offers first-of-its kind, no-cost training to 50 educators across the state. Cohorts of teachers develop the confidence and competence they need to bring STEM to life in the classroom through in-depth modules in life science, earth science, space, and physical science; dedicated time to hone instructional strategies; and access to support from mentors and peers. 

STaR represents one of a series of teacher professional development initiatives that serve more than 5,000 educators across 40 different schools. The Science Center also offers year-long professional development programs, mentoring, and coaching to more than 500 teachers from rural, low-income schools through efforts like the Rural Communities Expansion Project.

Additionally, Arizona is seeking to develop a future workforce that can meet a demand for nearly 10,000 computer science jobs; a trend evident across the nation. Arizona Science Center will meet this need through a statewide partnership with, scaling widespread, high-quality, computer science focused training across the state. Through this collaboration, the Science Center will offer introductory and deep-dive workshops that include hands-on training experiences, review of instructional strategies, and resources to bring to the classroom.

Arizona Science Center will also convene a cross-section of federal agencies, state policymakers, fellow science centers, and community-based organizations this year to continually increase opportunities to engage young people through science. 

The Science Center will join forces with the New York Hall of Science, U.S. Department of Education, and seven other science centers across the country to launch STEM-Rich Afterschool Making Programs, an initiative that will support professional development for after-school educators in underserved communities. And the Learning Team will continue to bring the National Science Foundation-funded Leap into Science Training initiative to life in Arizona, partnering with the state library system to pair open-ended science activities with early literacy efforts for pre-K children. 

Across these initiatives, Arizona Science Center introduces the potential to connect a greater number of children to the wonders of STEM—and strives to set an example for communities across the country.

“We embrace the role that science centers can play in convening organizations across society to expand access to engaging, enriching STEM experiences,” said Beth Nickel, Chief Learning Officer at Arizona Science Center. “If we are successful, we can lay the groundwork for other science centers across the nation to shape the next generation of innovative leaders.” 

For more information about the various initiatives that Arizona Science Center’s Learning Team offers, please visit

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About Arizona Science Center 

The mission of Arizona Science Center is to inspire, educate, and engage curious minds through science. The Center, located at 600 E. Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, features more than 300 hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, the state-of-the-art Dorrance Planetarium, and the five-story screen Irene P. Flinn Theater. Adjacent to the main building, is CREATE at Arizona Science Center®, a 6,500 square foot community makerspace providing workshops including 3D printing, laser cutting, microcontrollers, woodworking, and sewing. The Center also offers various programs for all ages including CAMP INNOVATION, professional development and learning for educators, and a monthly adults-only evening, Science with A Twist. For additional details, please visit




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