Middle School Teacher/Community Educator and Fellow Partnerships

Our Goals:

To address the uniqueness of our arid region, explore the human-environmental interactions, and learn how people have historically survived by harvesting, growing, and creating systems to provide food and protection.

To interpret the SBAR research and extension activities to create engaging lessons and learning activities for secondary school classrooms. These lessons will challenge students to learn about the science and economies behind innovative energy solutions that could shape arid lands farming of the Southwest.

To work with our educator partners to uncover the ancestral expertise of agriculture in the Southwest and how this knowledge could inform agricultural practices for our farmers that could lead to new crop economies.

SBAR Fellows from the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University stand with their SBAR Teacher Mentors.

Our Approach:


SBAR Fellows from the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University stand with their SBAR Teacher Mentors.
SBAR Fellows from the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University stand with their SBAR Teacher Mentors.

Middle/High school teachers (or community educators) and university fellows (graduate students) work together with our SBAR education team to collaborate on lessons that are appealing and informative to youth and to communities.

  • Our fellows are graduate students in STEM research fields or science education. They serve as translation experts by making the content accessible to middle school teachers and students. They commit 10 hours per week to their teacher/educator partner.
  • Our teachers bring curriculum design and learning expertise to the partnerships to help our fellows make the SBAR content accessible in fun, creative, and interactive ways.
  • Our community educators bring knowledge of communities values tied to agriculture in our arid ecosystem to help our fellows understand the community implications of SBAR work.

Teacher-Fellow Collaboration Path – Areas of Activity

1 – Teacher/Educator-Fellow Summer Professional Development Workshop

  • Two weeks long
  • The workshop model we use allows time for teachers:
    • To learn from researchers about their work and from extension experts about their community efforts
    • To participate in lab activities from the perspective of the middle school learner
    • To design activities and lessons that complement their existing curriculum maps
  • Teachers pair with Fellows, work on curriculum maps, and generate lesson ideas to pursue during the school year. Likewise, community educators pair with Fellows and work on community education programs.

2 – Fellows Seminar

  • Weekly meetings to discuss teaching practices, lesson design approaches, and classroom management in support of the SBAR Fellows.
    • Check-in with Fellows to ensure teachers’ needs are met (for example, supplies for experiments and other activities).
    • Tutorials on working with secondary school youth.
  • Classroom observations: Visits, Evaluation, and Guidance
    • Fellows are observed in the classroom for lesson delivery each semester.
    • Each semester, a meeting is held with the teacher/educator to debrief on how the partnership is playing out.

3 – Teacher/Educator-Fellow Lesson Design

  • Fellows help outline the teachers’ (or community educators’) lesson ideas.
  • Teachers/community educators co-edit and co-refine lesson content.
  • The Education Team does a robust edits of the lessons for webpage readiness.

4 – Education Resource Library for Teachers (coming Summer 2019)

  • Featuring teacher-designed lessons and activities.
  • Fun and dynamic videos (all under 3 minutes) that accompany lessons and activities.
  • Student-friendly materials and handouts.


Principal Investigators

Catherine E. Brewer

New Mexico State University

Principal Investigator

Sara Chavarria

University of Arizona

Principal Investigator

Kimberly Ogden

University of Arizona

Principal Investigator