What is RET?
This Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site on the Multidisciplinary Computational Solutions to Smart Sensors and Sensing Systems, award number 1609339, PI, Dr. Wen Li, and Co-PI, Drew Kim is newly funded by the NSF CISE program, Michigan State University's College of Engineering was first awarded in 1999, titled, RET Site on Bio-Inspired Technology and Systems (BITS) with PI, Dr. Xiaobo Tan and Co-PI, Mr. Drew Kim.. This renewal RET proposal for CISE has a cohesive research theme of “Multidisciplinary Computational Solutions to Smart Sensors and Sensing Systems (MCS4)”. The Site will host a total of 36 middle and high school teachers with a focus on those serving socioeconomically challenged populations and students from groups traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering. The teachers will participate in authentic research during a 6-week Summer Institute, with “one-on-one” mentoring by 12 MSU faculty who lead vibrant research programs. The teachers are to develop innovative, standards-compliant curriculum modules and participate in professional development activities, such as workshops, seminars, and field trips. Follow-up academic year activities will ensure the translation of lab research experience into classroom practice, strengthen long-term partnership between engineering faculty and teachers, and disseminate the outcomes through TeachEngineering.org (TE), K12 Design Day Competition, and conferences/workshops. A third-party evaluation team will evaluate the Site via periodic surveys, on-site observations, and interviews to provide feedback for program improvement. The evaluation team will also conduct longitudinal studies on participants to assess the longer-term impact of our RET program. The specific objectives of the proposed RET Site are summarized as follows: 1) train high-quality teachers who can inspire and prepare students for future college studies and careers in STEM fields; 2) improve teacher’s skills in curriculum development, leadership, communication, and instruction through greater attention to peer review and revision throughout the development process; 3) implement and disseminate innovative curricula to connect university research activities to K12 classroom practices; and 4) strengthen, sustain, and expand a long-term and healthy partnership between MSU, local school districts, and industry on advancing pre-college science and engineering education.
The renewal RET Site-MCS4 will double-down on the previous Site’s commitment to STEM-education and dissemination among a broad, diverse set of teachers by emphasizing multidisciplinary computational methods and persistent, active collaboration. By fostering active, sustained collaboration between faculty and participants, teachers expand both their depth and breadth of knowledge regarding how and why computational methods are implemented across a wide swath of authentic STEM research. The multidisciplinary nature of our core research theme will also provide a fertile ground for developing creative STEM lessons and teaching activities that align with state and national standards, which will excite pre-college students and liven up classroom learning.
Over the past years, our RET Sites have generated significant positive impacts: MSU Computer Science major has the biggest freshmen enrollment on the record this fall, and the total TE page views of our teachers’ lessons and activities are over 30,000. The renewal Site will continue to enrich the professional development of future leaders in STEM education, with about half being females and a similar ratio for minorities. It will also provide innovative and intriguing STEM curricula well aligned with college curricula, and pique the interest of middle and high school students in scientific and engineering inquiry. Through the partnership with high-need schools in Michigan, our Site will be able to distribute quality STEM learning opportunities and talented teachers to more students, especially those from underrepresented groups. The long-term collaboration between MSU and the participating schools will smooth the transition of students from these schools to colleges.