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The Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) Project, “From Hectares to Nanometers: GK-12 Multidisciplinary Explorations of Tropical Ecosystems and Functional Nanoscience” builds a strategic interdisciplinary partnership between the two largest and most developed research institutes of the University of Puerto Rico System: the Institute of Tropical Ecosystem Studies (ITES) and the Institute for Functional Nanomaterials (IFN).

The subject matter of these diverse fields spans 1011orders of magnitude and to the untrained minds there seems to be no relation between them. This Program exploits this huge difference to introduce to teachers and students “that the universe is a unified system” and that knowledge gained from studying one part can be applied to other scales and help understand what apparently seems to be very diverse worlds.

 

It also increases the knowledge through multidisciplinary explorations of tropical ecosystems and functional nanoscience while improving fellows’ abilities to communicate and teach science. Each year, eight doctoral students in STEM fields will perfect their communication, teaching, team building, and collaboration skills as well as to improve in eight intermediate and superior level public schools teachers’ and students’ knowledge of and excitement about the multidisciplinary fields of nano and environmental sciences.

The kernel of the project is the Fellow-Teacher Teams who will jointly participate in professional development activities to design, develop and implement the science instruction activities, creating inquiry-based educational materials in nano and environmental sciences and incorporating them into the middle and high school science curriculum.