TEA was a research experience-based approach to professional development for K-12 US teachers. The Program was designed to address science education reform by immersing the practitioners of science education in current polar science research. TEA was based on the principle that teachers who are exposed to a research experience develop a heightened understanding of the process of science, which ultimately impacts their approach to teaching. TEA was sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education (ESIE) in the Directorate of Education and Human Resources and the Office of Polar Programs (OPP). NSF award # ESIE 9904860. TEA was facilitated by the American Museum of Natural History, the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Rice University, and the University of Rhode Island's Office of Marine Programs.
In 2004, Laurie Connell worked with Amy Stoyles (7th and 8th grade science, Harllee Middle School, FL, pictured left) and Barb Schultz (Biology teacher , Lakeside School, WA, pictured right) to look at the community of life living in Dry Valley soils in order to determine the role yeast play in the ecosystem. The goals of the project include determining the abundance and distribution of yeast in the McMurdo Dry Valley ecosystem, investigating any correlation between yeast abundance and soil chemistry, characterizing the sterols synthesized by indigenous species, and comparing the DNA of Antarctic yeast populations with similar species found world wide. We will also be studying the ability of yeast populations to utilize and store phosphorous and survive freeze-thaw cycles. In addition, we will be isolating DNA from soil to identify community cohorts and comparing the growth of yeast in soils from sites where they are present and absent. The project involves sampling along grids at high, medium and low elevations across the Dry Valleys and bringing back the soil samples in order to culture the organisms. During the project Amy and Barb kept jounals of their experience, which detail their Antarctic adventure.