This award provides funding for a three year continuing award for a Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering and Computer Science Site Program at the University of Notre Dame entitled, RET in Engineering and Computer Science Site on Engineering a More Sustainable Energy Future", under the direction of Dr. Joan F. Brennecke.
This proposed RET site will fund a total of 54 middle and high school STEM teachers, up to 18 teachers per year for three years, to participate in engineering research aimed at solving challenges to create a more sustainable energy future. Teachers from local schools in greater South Bend, Indiana and the national Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) network will complete eight weeks of state-of-the-art research working with engineering faculty members during the summer. Using hands-on experiences and learning, teachers will develop STEM teaching materials with the assistance of an experienced STEM curriculum development professional which meet respective state curricular guidelines and are appropriate for middle and high school aged students. Since the curriculum development working groups will include participants working in varied labs, many aspects of energy science and technology can be incorporated in the materials, and this will allow teachers to draw from a variety of topics to fit the educational needs of their schools. Research areas may include CO2 capture, solar to fuels, safer nuclear power, new wind technology, biofuels, and improved grid technologies. These important topics will allow teachers to address STEM education through the framework of a real-world challenge (energy) to which most all students can relate.
The addition of ACE teachers will expand the RET program to schools throughout the country and therefore significantly multiply the number of students who will be reached, particularly minority students, as greater than 50% of ACE schools serve predominantly minority student bodies. Finally, educating students on energy production, use, and sustainability is critical to move society toward adoption of a more sustainable energy future.