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RET Yields Innovative Elementary, Middle, and High School Teaching Kits

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovative Program and Curricular Development

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1251.1 - 22.1251.11



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Paper Authors


Carolyn A. Vallas University of Virginia

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Carolyn Vallas serve as General Faculty and Program Director at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Center for Diversity in Engineering (CDE). As Director, she has been responsible for identifying and implementing short and long-term program goals and objectives in the areas of outreach and recruitment to increase the pool of students interested and enrolling in the STEM fields. Program evaluation is critical in these efforts. A strong collaborative working relationship has been established with faculty and other colleagues on campus. She has spearheaded various programs with local corporations and private industry in order to secure funds, in kind support and research and internship opportunities for the students.

In addition, Carolyn has served as the PI and CoPI on several National Science Foundation (NSF) grants focusing on Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) as well as the Research Experience for Teachers (RET). She has special research interest in education and the advancement of the underrepresented population in the STEM fields; focusing on faculty, K-12 teachers, student’s preparation, retention, global initiatives and persistence factors. She is also actively involved with engineering student organizations as a sponsor of their activities and faculty advisor to their chapters.

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Juliet J. Trail University of Virginia, Center for Diversity in Engineering

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Juliet J. Trail is a research assistant in the University of Virginia Center for Diversity in Engineering (CDE). In this capacity she serves as program coordinator for the Research Experience for Teachers (PI Carolyn Vallas), which includes both a summer experience and an annual INNOVATION: Teaching Nanotechnology workshop for K-12 teachers. Ongoing activities with the CDE also include numerous academic year and summer programs designed to inspire and sustain student interest at the K-12, undergraduate, and graduate levels in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Prior to serving as a program administrator in the UVA School of Engineering & Applied Science, Ms. Trail served as a project manager and administrator for the UVA School of Medicine. Juliet is also a doctoral candidate with the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the UVA Curry School of Education, studying university organization, leadership, program evaluation and collaboration.

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ASEE Abstract, for K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division Title: RET Yields Elementary, Middle, and High School Teaching InnovationsAbstractThe National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program sponsors K-12teachers for a summer of conducting research in a STEM laboratory. Participating teachers work closelywith faculty mentors and graduate students to develop independent research projects, and use this cutting-edge research as a spring-board for creating novel teaching kits and lessons for classroom use. Further,participants align the innovative teaching modules with all related State Standards of Learning. Thismanuscript will provide an overview of the research-based teaching kits that were developed in the RET2010 program for elementary, middle, and high school STEM classrooms, and will discuss the results oftwo outcome surveys administered to participants to measure the effectiveness and impact of (1) the RETprogram and (2) the instructional use of the RET teaching module in the classroom.In the summer of 2010, the RET program hosted fifteen teachers: three from elementary, five frommiddle, and seven from high schools. We will highlight a unique aspect of this program: the inclusion ofelementary school teachers, who created useful and exciting teaching modules such as an online Prezitutorial introducing nanotechnology and a “Reading and Science” unit in which students grow algae anddebate its use as a biofuel alternative energy source. RET 2010 participants conducted research in thedepartments of biomedical, civil/environmental, electrical/computer, materials science, mechanical, andsystems engineering, as well as physics. An example of an outstanding teaching kit developed for highschool biology is the utilization of a cotton candy machine for demonstrating the creation of spunNanofibers for tissue engineering applications in biomedical engineering. The RET summer programconcluded with a Final Colloquium, where participants presented a poster, a working demonstrationversion of their kit, a PowerPoint, and an oral presentation. Participants then introduced the new teachingmodules and kits in their classrooms during the 2010-11 school year and reported results via survey. Thispaper will conclude with an overview of survey data, lessons learned, and next steps in the refinement ofthe Research Experience for Teachers program.

Vallas, C. A., & Trail, J. J. (2011, June), RET Yields Innovative Elementary, Middle, and High School Teaching Kits Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18794

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