This project builds capacity for middle school teachers to enact and adapt integrated STEM curriculum units with their students. The units will focus on biomimicry—examining structures and functions found in nature and applying these to solve human problems, which combines science, engineering, and technology. The project enables teachers to design activities that are personally authentic to their students by supporting teachers to examine their students' assets, needs, and interests and center these during unit design.
The project will develop a teacher professional learning (PL) model that focuses on middle-school biological sciences in addressing real world problems. Systems thinking is central to understanding biology systems. Game design has been shown to help develop systems thinking in teachers and students. Students will participate in PL to illustrate the value of distributed expertise by sharing their knowledge of computer. Teachers will adapt their existing curriculum and will co-design games with students to experience participatory practices.