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Paid Summer Research for STEM Teachers

Back in the summer of 2016, seventh grade science teacher Shawn Bell attended a new program at the University of Arkansas Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems that was designed to provide authentic, hands-on research experiences for K-12 STEM educators.

He took five short courses with various faculty, then developed a lesson plan centered around thermal energy, heat transfer, and how temperature related to kinetic energy. The center’s staff then partnered with Hellstern Middle School to pilot the lessons in its sixth grade science classrooms that October. The resulting lesson plans and activities, which are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, are available to any teacher through the university’s Center for Math and Science Education, where Bell is now a science specialist.

The National Science Foundation’s Engineering Directorate sponsors paid summer research experiences for teachers (RET) at universities across the country. The program typically covers some travel costs and a weekly stipend for the duration – typically up to eight weeks.

Studies and testimony from teachers show that such authentic, hands-on research experiences can have profound effects on teacher effectiveness and student learning. Since 2011, for example, the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering has helped 70 middle and high school teachers and their 10,400 students learn STEM content through innovative, hands-on approaches instilled through this process. In a paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education‘s 2017 Annual Conference, professor Gisele Ragusa found:

  • 32.7% gain in performance in teacher performance
  • 21.5% gain in science teaching efficacy
  • 35.3% gain in student science knowledge
  • 35.4% gain in student science literacy
  • 35.1% gain in science interest and motivation

William J. Furiosi II, a high school science teacher who participated in lung-cancer detection research at the University of Central Florida’s Center for Research in Computer Vision, made this video about his 2016 summer experience. One suggestion: more knowledge of coding would have helped!

Check with your local university for research opportunities or click the links below. Applications typically are due March 1, 2018.

Iowa State University: NSF Engineering Center for Biorenwable Chemicals – Seven week program pays $900/week, with travel stipends available. Apply by March 1.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT’s Science and Engineering Programs for Teachers hosts up to 50 high school STEM educators for a week of immersive professional development. This year focuses on two tracks: “Broadening Participation in STEM,” which aims to support teachers in acquiring skills to support women and underrepresented minorities in STEM, and “Bringing Project-Based Learning & Inquiry into STEM Classrooms,” focused on increasing inquiry and student choice through games, technology, and curriculum that can be brought into various content and classrooms. Workshops run Sunday, June 24 – Saturday, June 30, 2018. Apply by Feb 15, 2018.

NASCENT: The National Science Foundation engineering research center in Nanomanufacturing Systems for mobile Computing and Energy Technologies (NASCENT) is a partnership between The University of Texas at Austin, The University of New Mexico, The University of California at Berkeley, Indian Institute of Science, and Seoul National University. Housed at the University of Texas, Austin, the seven-week summer research program for teachers in nanomanufacturing includes a $800/week stipend and $1,500 to purchase classroom materials. Program runs from June 11 to July 27, 2018.  Apply buy January 31.

Northeastern University Center for STEM Education – Six week program for middle and high school math and science teachers, and community college STEM faculty, to develop a lesson in the teacher’s field of interest. Click HERE for database of past lessons or to Apply.

Purdue University and Tuskegee University – Sustainable Electronics research experience, June 4 – July 13, 2018. Apply here.

University of Minnesota Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. July 5 – August 10, 2018. Offers $6,000 stipend, travel assistance, and cost of materials. Applications due Feb. 15, 2018.

University of Notre Dame hosts a number of outreach programs for teachers, including RET (picture shown in this blog post summary). Unclear if there are any plans to host an RET program in 2018.

University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering K12 Outreach program‘s research experience for teachers. [Los Angeles, Calif., from July 5 to August 4, 2018] Click HERE to apply.


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