To hear from a former RET teacher and his research mentors, check out our informational RET webinar recording. Note: The program begins June 20, 2023 - not June 19, 2023.
The Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Program is a seven-week summer program for middle and high school STEM teachers. RETs conduct research with a host laboratory for the first six weeks of the program and prepare for the summer research symposium during the seventh week. For Summer 2023, the RET programs will be offered online or in-person depending on the placement. Please see the descriptions under "Additional Information" on the left for more information. Teachers selected for the program will participate in ongoing research projects with university science or engineering faculty and work with CSATS science education faculty to develop a classroom research project based on their research experience.
RET programs for the Summer of 2023:
The application requires general contact information, direct supervisor information, 3 professional references, 3 essay questions, a support letter from your immediate supervisor, and a sample lesson plan.
Everything you need to know about eligibility can be found on the RET website.
Some placements for the RET program are offered online. Please check under "additional information" for which programs are offered virtually. For virtual RETs, the program is open to any educator to apply.
No, you do not need to have research experience. But if you do, please be sure to tell us in your application.
The RET application is an online form. The application requires general contact information, direct supervisor information, 3 professional references, 3 essay questions, a support letter from your immediate supervisor, and a sample lesson plan.
The deadline to apply for a virtual research experience is March 31st, 2023. Please contact Tiffany Lewis, CSATS STEM Education Outreach Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you require submission beyond that date, but are interested in the program.
Yes, you can save the application and return to it later to submit, but we suggest that you prepare your answers in a separate document and copy them into the webpage.
We are sorry to hear that you are having a problem with the application and are happy to help you. If you have a general question or issue, please contact Tiffany Lewis, CSATS STEM Education Outreach Specialist, email@example.com.
You will receive an automatically generated email when you submit your application. Note: All automatically generated email messages about your RET application will be sent to you but if you aren’t getting these messages, check your spam or junk folders.
CSATS faculty, and possibly the research mentors, will review your application.
You should be notified of decisions by the end of April 2023. You will be notified by e-mail of your acceptance or regrets for the program.
Of course, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements listed on our website.
The RET program is being held virtually for the Summer of 2023. Most research can be conducted remotely; however, depending on your proximity to a lab placement, you may be able to conduct the research in-person.
As an RET, you will spend 6 weeks engaged in an authentic research experience with a scientist or engineer based on your placement. During 6 of the 7 weeks, you will spend 4 days of the week working a full-time workday (8 hours per day) on your technical research and 1 day a week will be spent with CSATS faculty to receive professional development (PD). The PD is held via Zoom for 4 hours with breaks and you will have an additional 3 hours of asynchronous work to do in preparation for the synchronous meetings. During week 7 of the program, you will not be required to officially conduct any research (unless you have tasks to wrap up). This time is intended for RETs to work on their technical posters and/or classroom research projects to present at the RET Symposium capstone event. For more specific information such as work hours, see “Questions about RET Logistics” below.
As an RET teacher, you will gain a better understanding of the nature of research and the current practices of scientists and engineers, which inform current science education best practices. CSATS faculty will then help you translate your technical research experience into a classroom application for your students. For your work in the summer, you will receive a stipend of $6,000. An additional $1,500 stipend is available if you implement your classroom research project during the academic year and conduct action research on your teaching practice and student learning. If you conduct the action research, you will complete an impact report to share your results. See the section “I’ve read that RETS will develop a classroom research project” below.
As part of the professional development sessions, you will learn how to translate your research experience into a classroom application that fits within your existing curriculum. At the conclusion of the summer, you will create a classroom reach project using content and/or practices you learned from your research experience. CSATS provides a template for this process. You will present your project to CSATS faculty and other CSATS RET fellows to receive feedback. During the following academic year, you will then pilot your research project unit in your classrooms and collect data to inform the outcome of predetermined project goals. CSATS faculty will remain as an available resource during the implementation process throughout the academic year. At the conclusion of implementing your classroom research project and data collection, you will complete an impact report to share the results of your project.
The seven-week program runs from June 20 – August 4, 2023 (Monday – Friday).
RET participants are paid a $6,000 stipend for their full participation in the seven-week program. The stipend is paid by check in two installments of $3,000. You will receive the first installment mid-way through the summer and the second installment of $3,000 upon completion and acceptance of your classroom research project and completion of other end of the program tasks.
You have the opportunity to receive up to 3 graduate credits through Penn State if you enroll in the course through Penn State by May 14, 2023. You are responsible for tuition payment. If interested, please reach out to Tiffany Lewis, STEM Education Outreach Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to enroll in the course BEFORE May 1, 2023. We can also provide 36 hours of Act 48 credits.
The RET program is a full-time, Monday-Friday commitment for the 7-weeks. If you decide to work another job or take classes, this must occur OUTSIDE of your RET program time commitments. Please take this into consideration when planning to work or take classes outside of the RET program. Please understand that failure to complete requirements to program standards may result in removal from the program.
Each lab has its own culture and rhythm. You and your lab mentor will work out a specific schedule for you, which will include time spent working on your research project, attending lab meetings, etc. Generally you will start around 8 or 9 AM and finish at 4 or 5 PM. You will also receive time for lunch.
It is up to you to arrange your own transportation to and from your laboratory placement if you attend your placement in-person.
The RET Symposium is a time for RET teachers to share the research that they have conducted during the summer with others. You will present your technical research poster via Zoom at the end of the RET program.
Please contact Tiffany Lewis, STEM Education Outreach Specialist,email@example.com.
Consortium for Cultivating Human And Naturally regenerative Enterprises (C-CHANGE) seeks to optimize the production of renewable natural gas and its byproducts through anaerobic digestion of herbaceous biomass and manure on farms in the upper Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions. To accomplish these tasks, researchers need to better understand the how best to increase value throughout the supply chain, including the feedstocks, process, and stakeholder engagement to improve the product value and increase profitability and sustainability. Accomplishing these goals will promote human health, economic prosperity, energy security, and ecosystem resources.
The summer 2023 placement funded by C-CHANGE will be conducted with Armen Kermanian at Penn State University. The teacher placed in this RET will be engaged in modeling agricultural systems. Models are used to predict realistic systems. Using computer programming language (code), models represent a system in-silico to help researchers gain a deeper understanding of the system without the monumental cost of experiments, thus helping researchers understand what experiment matters. A teacher in our lab will learn to use specific aspects of our simulation models, "Cycles," a model of the soil-crop-atmosphere system to study how nitrogen nutrition affects plant growth and yield, and nitrogen pollution.
Note: This placement is preferred to be in-person at University Park, but could be offered virtually. The Mahony lab studies how transcription factors and other regulatory proteins control the various cell types that make up our bodies. The RET will participate in a project that aims to understand how the regulatory "circuitry" in liver cells has evolved to allow different animals to adapt to different diets. The RET will examine how liver regulatory circuitary evolves between species, what genes they regulate on the genome, and what dietary adaptions they might be associated with. No prior bioinformatics or computer programming experience will be required for this RET; the participating teacher will be trained to perform bioinformatics analyses using online tools.
Note: This placement is being offered in-person at University Park or virtually. This placement, funded by the National Science Foundation, will allow a secondary STEM teacher to engage in a research experience with Dr. Meghan Vidt, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Penn State University. Building on fundamentals of physics and anatomy, this project will focus on using a computational model understand how the effects of musculoskeletal injury and how treatment can improve function. The primary goal of this Research Experience for Teachers project is to highlight the intersectionality of STEM fields through a research project that will be co-designed as a unit of study to enhance his/her current curriculum.
Note: This placement is being offered in-person at University Park or virtually. This placement, funded by the National Science Foundation, engages a secondary STEM teacher in a research experience with Dr. Minghui Zhu, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Penn State, University Park. The project aims to use Control Theory and Artificial Intelligence to control autonomous mobile robots, e.g., drones and self-driving cars, in photorealistic simulators. The primary goal of this Research Experience for Teachers program is to use this research to co-design a unit of study to enhance his/her current curriculum.
Note: This research placement is being offered in-person at University Park. This placement is funded by the National Science Foundation and engages secondary school teachers in a research experience with Drs. David Stensrud and Matthew Kumjian in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science at Penn State. The project aims to better understand and document the daytime evolution of the planetary boundary layer – the lowest layer of the atmosphere that is in contact with the Earth’s surface and varies in depth from a few tens of meters at night to a few km during the day. This important atmospheric layer will be observed using data from National Weather Service dual-polarization radars and from small weather balloons launched from Penn State. Teachers will assist in data collection and data processing and will co-design a unit of study to enhance his/her current curriculum.
4. Upon submission of your application, you will receive a confirmation email that the documents are submitted to the CSATS RET Committee and you will be contacted if selected to interview after the application window is closed. Thank you and we look forward to learning more about you!
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