Since 2010, the UW MRSEC’s has run an RET program in a unique cross-site collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez (UPRM). The RET program offers teachers from both regions an authentic research-focused professional development experience. Each teacher works in the laboratory of a MRSEC or UPRM faculty member and is mentored by the professor and a graduate student or postdoc. In collaboration with their mentors, the RET fellows develop a classroom curriculum module based upon their research experience. By co-designing a classroom activity, teachers gain a deeper understanding of their research topic and leave the program with a tangible resource for teaching their students about cutting-edge research. All RET fellows implement their new module in their own classrooms during the academic year following the summer program. Once the modules have been evaluated and refined, the MRSEC then disseminates them through our website, field trips, and professional development workshops with the goal of increasing the general public's awareness and involvement in cutting-edge science and engineering. Additional RET program activities include laboratory skills workshops, weekly group meetings, research seminars, laboratory tours, and visits to campus educational resources.
Many teachers participate in the program for at least two years, which allows them to further develop their research skills and understanding. Since the program’s inception, over 30 teachers from Wisconsin or Puerto Rico have participated in this cross-site RET program.
The program culminates with an in-person meeting of the teachers at both sites during the capstone week program held either in Madison, Wisconsin or Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. During capstone week all RET fellows will present their research projects and give their colleagues an opportunity to try the hands-on portion of their new curriculum. This is an excellent opportunity to receive feedback from professional colleagues prior to implementing the new modules in the classroom.
Examples of previous RET Projects
The RET 2016 program runs for 7 weeks, from mid-June to the end of July. Teachers receive $6000 as compensation for their time.
How to apply to the RET program
To apply to the RET program please download and fill out application from the link below. Preference will be given to applicants local to Wisconsin from schools with a high population of students who are underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, as well as from schools with a high percentage of students with low socioeconomic status.