The National Science Foundation has recently acknowledged the University of Notre Dames growing influence as a resource for high school science teacher enrichment with a $500,000 grant for continuing support of the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program.
The three-year grant was awarded to Wolfgang Porod, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Alexander Hahn, professor of mathematics and director of the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning, to support RET@ND .
As RET educators bring their summer experiences back to the classroom, they inspire a new, younger generation of potential scientists. The program addressesa shortage of teachers and a shortage of students going into science and engineering,Porod said.
A parallel motivation,Hahn added,is to enhance the success of faculty in science, engineering and mathematics who seek to respond to the broader impactcriteria that so many grant applications include.
Grants from the National Science Foundation, in particular, increasingly demand that projects demonstrate this broader impact. RET@ND establishes a structure of community outreach to educators.
While on campus, RET teachers become both Notre Dame employees, who earn research stipends, and scholarship students, who earn tuition-free course credits.
Besides performing research side-by-side with some of Notre Dames most accomplished scientists and engineers, RET teachers are asked to infuse their experience into their high school curricula. Nevin Longenecker, a celebrated Adams High School science teacher and noted supporter of high school-level laboratory research, is the liaison between RET@ND and the high school classroom experience.
Nevin knows how to transform discoveries made in the laboratory into classroom enriching elements,Hahn said.
The NSF grant specifically funds engineering RET activities. A parallel set of high school teachers receive stipends and credit for working in College of Science labs and mathematics workshops. Stipends for science and mathematics are supported by such sources as the College of Science, the Siemens Foundation, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and Teachers Credit Union.