RET Group

What is RET?

This Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site on Robotics Engineering for Better Life and Sustainable Future continues a previous successful RET program, RET Site on Bio-Inspired Technology and Systems (BITS), at Michigan State University. The renewed site will continue to develop a strong partnership between MSU and schools in the greater Lansing-Detroit-Grand Rapids area on advancing pre-college science and engineering education by training a cadre of leaders of middle and high school teachers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The program will recruit teachers from schools in Mid- and Southeast Michigan with a focus on those serving socioeconomically challenged populations and students from groups traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering. RET participants will attend a 6-week summer institute, to participate in cutting-edge research on robotics engineering, with mentoring from engineering faculty who lead vibrant robotics related research programs. Working with PIs, faculty mentors, a curriculum development specialist and an editor of TeachEngineering.org, teachers will develop innovative, standards-compliant curriculum modules and participate in a number of professional development activities. Extensive follow-up activities are planned throughout the academic year to ensure the translation of lab experience into classroom practice, and to foster and strengthen long-term partnership between engineering faculty and teachers. A third-party professional program evaluator will track and evaluate the program and provide feedback for improvement. The evaluator will also conduct longitudinal studies on participants to assess the longer-term impact of the RET program.

Intellectual Merit

Under the coherent theme of Robotics Engineering for Better Life and Sustainable Future, the proposed RET Site will expose teachers to leading robotics research spanning biorobotics, evolutionary robotics, nanorobotics, brain-machine interface, biomechanics, and human-robot interaction, and to the profound changes robotic technologies will bring to personal care, medical procedures, environmental monitoring and exploration, and entertainment and gaming. The interdisciplinary nature of robotics engineering will provide a fertile ground for developing creative course modules in biology, physics, chemistry, and technology that align with state and national standards, which will excite pre-college students and liven up classroom learning.

Broader Impacts

The proposed RET Site project is expected to enrich the professional development of a number of future leaders in STEM education, about half being females with a similar ratio for minorities. It will also result in innovative curriculum for science and technology courses, and pique the interest of middle and high school students in scientific inquiry. Through the partnership with schools in Lansing, Detroit, and Grand Rapids, and the all-girls Regina High School, the proposed project will positively influence the learning and career paths of young students, especially students from underserved districts and underrepresented groups in Michigan and beyond for years to come, thus contributing to a technology-savvy workforce that is much needed by America.

NSF LogoThis NSF RET Site on Robotics Engineering for Better Life and Sustainable Future is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CNS-1300794.