Education through Collaboration


Creating a quality teacher-student bond can make a huge difference in student outcomes. The introduction of a math and science hands-on project made all the difference in helping a high school teacher connect with a usually difficult-to-reach student in Wolsey-Wessington School District, SD.

To create the Biodome, students in math and science classes had to collaborate to design, create and assemble the mini-biosphere. Approximately 3×5 feet in diameter, it contained five ecosystems including forest, desert, grassland, mountain and aquatic. The project, funded by the Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, had three main goals: infuse modern technologies and real-world collaboration into student learning; increase hands-on experiences in math and science courses; increase student interest in STEM fields.

Math students were tasked with designing and creating the inorganic parts of the ecosystems, such as the living quarters, air system and bridges, by scaling the objects down using geometric principles and printing them with a 3-D printer. Science students were to study the ecosystems and life support systems necessary for an artificial living setting.

One student even reached a turning point in his educational career when working on the project after school hours. “I truly believe that this event was one of those life-changing moments for this young man,” his teacher said.

He found out that working hard on something could pay off in a big way.