A meaningful Summer Research Experience in a bioengineering laboratory at a major research university can enhance the knowledge of a high school pre-engineering or science teacher, making it possible to more effectively convey the nature of the scientific process in bioengineering to his or her students. In combination with guided instruction in Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards-aligned curricula design, the laboratory research can be more effectively translated and applied in high school science classrooms. The Bioengineering Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is ideally positioned to implement such a combined experience for Chicago high school teachers, which in turn would have a dramatic impact on one of the most diverse group of young learners in the country, who are our next generation of bioengineers. Our Research Education Plan includes a six-week intensive on-campus summer research experience in a bioengineering laboratory under the guidance of one of thirteen research-active core bioengineering faculty mentors, that is preceded by regular spring meetings to optimize the research project in advance and encourage the program participant to prepare in earnest for the summer-intensive experience, through a combination of reading assignments, online protocol training and other activities specific to the project. Several of these faculty members already have experience mentoring high school science teachers via an NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Teachers program administered by UIC Bioengineering for the past 10 years. In partnership with faculty from the UIC College of Education who are recognized experts in curriculum design and teaching in secondary education, and in particular, teaching of secondary science in urban schools, this program also provides guided instruction to help the teacher-participants incorporate their research experience and learning into their classroom. Illinois adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010 and the Next Generation Science Standards in 2014, which outline the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn throughout their K-12 education. Because of the rapid introduction, adoption, and implementation of the CCSS, many districts and teachers have found themselves searching for quality curriculum aligned to the CCSS; this presents a golden opportunity to make a major impact. But, as summer research experience programs aim to build long-term collaborative partnerships with STEM teachers by involving them in research and introducing them to the most current developments in engineering and science, it is also critical to provide them guidance on how to translate their experience to their own classrooms. Thus, in addition to bioengineering laboratory research opportunities in diverse areas including regenerative medicine, precision medicine, rehabilitation engineering, bionanomaterials and biomedical imaging, we will provide in-depth participant-tailored curricular mentoring via weekly workshops that will focus on principles of effective planning, instruction, and assessment to be directly connected to teachers' classroom curriculum.
A meaningful research experience in a bioengineering laboratory at a major research university can enhance the knowledge of a high school science teacher, making it possible to more effectively convey the nature of the scientific process in bioengineering to his or her students. In combination with guided instruction in Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards- aligned curricula design, the laboratory research can be translated and applied in high school science classrooms.