Biology is a great way to capture the interest of young students and see how science impacts their lives and the world around them. Biodiversity from Molecules to Ecosystems or BioMe, is a program funded by the National Science Foundation that places University of Arizona graduate students in K-12 classrooms to get kids excited about the life sciences. Fellows are from a myriad of life science departments from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to Entomology and Cancer Biology. Partner school districts are Tucson Unified, Sunnyside, Flowing Wells, Amphitheater, Catalina Foothills, Vail, and local charter schools.
UA graduate student, Tuan Cao, is an expert on ant behavior. This year he is sharing his research and his knowledge with the second grade at Dunham Elementary School. 2nd Grade Teacher, Marguerite Samples, says, "Tuan is a favorite with the class and because he uses hands on exercises with the kids on concepts like pollination and adaptation they will retain more." Tuan says, "the kids aren't the only ones who benefit, it helps me with my communication skills and explaining my research and what I do."
The purpose of the program is to introduce biological concepts encompassing ecology, evolution, genomics, biodiversity, and biocomplexity into the classroom. BioME is led by Judie Bronstein, with the UA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, she says, "Since it first started a couple of years ago, the program has been an enormous success and has been a win-win situation for everyone."