October 1, 2017.
Biosphere 2, owned and operated by the University of Arizona, has two primary missions: earth systems research and education. This study comprises a program evaluation of the efficacy of Biosphere 2’s education and outreach programs. The two related programs evaluated are the Summer Science Academy (SSA) programs for middle school and high school students and the Outreach Scholars (OS) program for college-level participants. For the middle school and high school groups, the questions this study seeks to answer are: How does the Summer Science Academy program influence students’ attitude on being scientists? Are students able to better understand the steps of the scientific method by the end of the program? Are students able to develop and improve their presentation skills while at SSA? For the Outreach Scholars program, this study seeks to analyze the following: How well does the OS training program change the Outreach Scholars’ perception on their ability to mentor the Summer Science Academy students? How does the experience of working with the Summer Science Academy students affect the level of confidence in the Outreach Scholars to communicate science and scientific terms efficiently to a younger audience? The answers to these questions were obtained via surveys administered at the beginning and at the end of each of the programs. The study found a significant difference in the SSA middle school group’s ability to develop their presentation skills throughout the week. The training provided to the Outreach Scholars also afforded a significant result in the Outreach Scholars’ perceived ability to mentor the summer science academy students after their initial training.
Biosphere 2 (B2)
The 2017 STEM Teacher and Researcher Program and this project have been made possible through support from Chevron (www.chevron.com), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (www.marinesanctuary.org), the California State University Office of the Chancellor, and California Polytechnic State University, in partnership with Biosphere 2.