This award provides funding for a three year continuing award to support a Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering Site program at West Virginia University, entitled, "RET Site: Energy and the Environment", under the direction of Dr. Darran R. Cairns.
The aim of this RET in Engineering site at West Virginia University (WVU) is to train and empower 30 middle and high school STEM teachers (10 per year for 3 years) from high-need rural school districts in Appalachia (specifically West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania) to inspire their students through project based learning linked to energy research projects in collaboration with industry partners from their community. Teachers will participate in a six-week summer research program where they will be trained in project based learning, will attend an International Summer Energy School (ISES) at the University of Birminghamm, UK, and will perform socially relevant, individualized research on energy conversion, environmental monitoring and maintenance.
The Research Experience for Teachers Site at West Virginia University and Energy and the Environment is a three year Research Experience for Teachers site program. It consists of six week research projects in energy and the environment for example, energy efficiency of veicles, flexible solar panels, fuel cells and climate change in Appalachia. The program also provided two week international research opportunities for the 24 teacher participants at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. The program further involved 8 graduate students in working with the teachers. Teacher partiipants increased their content knowledge as a result of the program. This was evidenced from teacher interviews. Results of the conference will be presented at the ASEE Conference in 2014 and the AERA conference in 2014. The international component had a significant and meaningful impact on teacher content knowledge and attitudes toward science and engineering increased appreciation of relationships tying science fundamentals to technology applications and economic development, and the impact on teachers of the international component. Quantitive and qualitiative evidence for impact included pre/post survey (Likert-type and open ended), teacher content knowlege tests (Force Concept Inventory, Calculus Readiness, AP Chemistry), school observation focus groups, exit interviews, written reflections on school observations, and field notes.