Research Experience for Teachers - 2020
Dr. John Kaup, Furman University
In addition to the great advances in materials science research throughout the state, the MADE in SC project is also engaging High School STEM teachers in the state through the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program. RET seeks to link STEM teachers with a college/university faculty member in their local area. The teacher completes a 6-week (200 hours) research experience under the direction of their faculty mentor while also developing plans to link their research experience to their curricular instruction during the next academic year. MADE in SC provides funding for 7 teacher experiences per year (providing a teacher stipend, supplies for the research mentor and additional supplies funds to support the teacher in linking the experience back to their classroom). While this program is managed by Dr. John Kaup (Director of Science Education at Furman University), the 19 experiences to date have occurred at 8 separate institution around the South Carolina.
While RET in Summer 2018 and 2019 followed this format of linking teachers to a school in their local area, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all of us and a new approach was needed to deliver the RET program. As campuses across the state shifted toward remote research opportunities, so did the RET. While we were not able to engage the full complement of 7 teachers, we did provide research experiences for 4 SC STEM teachers. As one example, Josh Carroll (Physics teacher; Eastside High School, Greenville) was matched with Dr Ana Oprisan (Physics; College of Charleston) and completed a mathematical modeling project that studied the thermodynamic nature of oxygen in the critical region. In addition to the completed research, Josh was also introduced to MATLAB as a modeling software and has already developed lesson plans to link his developing MATLAB expertise to curricular instruction in Physics back at his institution. A school wide license was purchased (through MADE in SC funds) to allow Josh to incorporate the use of MATLAB modeling in his courses as well as others within his school.
We are currently surveying our teachers and mentors to understand their experiences in shifting to this remote approach and will utilize this feedback as we consider the potential for remote or perhaps hybrid options for RET in the future. Breaking down the geographic barriers to research (allowing teachers and faculty from throughout the state to engage) has great potential for maximizing the impact of the RET program. If you have interest in contributing to RET as a faculty mentor or as a teacher participant, reach out to John Kaup for additional information (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are looking forward to returning to a full complement of teacher engagements in summer 2021 with the potential for implementing hybrid approaches in some projects