How do emerging environmental stressors such as floods, droughts, and heat waves impact local biodiversity across diverse ecosystems?

The Authentic Research Experience for Teachers at NSF’s Long Term Ecological Research sites (ARET@LTER) project engages high school teachers  in conducting field and laboratory research focused on this question. Pairs of teachers will be recruited from schools with large populations of students from  marginalized groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and stationed at each of three LTER research locations.

Over an 18-month period, pairs of selected teachers will work with faculty and graduate students to conduct research and compare their experiences with colleagues stationed at other LTER sites through virtual meetings and chats. This cohort approach will allow teachers to support and learn from one another, as well as to gain a wide array of experiences, connections, and research taking place across multiple sites within the LTER Network. The three included LTER sites span diverse critical habitat types on Earth including the Arctic (Arctic LTER), temperate montane forests (Andrews LTER), and marine coastal ecosystems (Santa Barbara Coastal LTER).

A capstone in-person experience at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) will further involve teachers in the practice, process, and community of today’s networked and data-intensive science. Teachers will engage their students in authentic science learning activities based on their RET experience and also develop a Data Nugget or similar data product based on their authentic research experience which can be used by any of the RETs in the project as well as across K-12 and undergraduate classrooms through the freely available Data Nuggets website.

map of LTER network highlighting the three sites involved in ARET program