This award provides funding for a three year continuing award to support a Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering Site program at Boston University (BU) entitled, "TRIPSS-RET Site in Biophotonics Sensors and Systems", under the direction of Dr. Michael F. Ruane.

The goal of this RET in Engineering program is to provide professional development of STEM leaders (10 elementary and pre-service teachers per year for three years, 30 in total) through research experiences and instructional innovations. It will involve diverse groups of K-12 teachers in STEM teaching in biophotonics, 2) immerse teachers in interdisciplinary, supportive biophotonics research groups, 3) train teachers to plan and conduct classsroom teaching based on biophotonics, and 4) connect teachers with local researchers, research faculty, NSF REU students, GK-12 fellows and faculy from two Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) as well as regional STEM networks.

Project Report

Boston University was awarded a NSF RET-TRIPSS (Teachers’ Research in BioPhotonics-Sensors and Systems), award EEC-1009808, from 06/01/10 – 05/31/13, fwith a no cost extension year that funded five additional teachers for the summer of 2013. The PI was Michael Ruane with co-PI’s Cynthia Brossman and Helen Fawcett. For the final no-cost extension year (June 2013), Thomas Bifano became PI when Ruane retired. We provided RET experiences for a total of twenty-eight teachers, five of whom returned to work a second year. The project design paired middle school with high school teachers to create teams that shared research and curriculum development. Teachers worked in a variety of laboratories including ones where they took the lead in developing modules that could be used by high school classrooms and photonics based laboratories (cohort 1 and cohort 3). In other laboratories, fundamental research into the optical properties of virus, proteins and tissue were studied, allowing the teachers to develop lesson plans for biology classrooms that related back to the development of new technologies for bio-imaging and diagnostics (cohorts 1 – 4). Other teachers learned about spectroscopy and were able to apply it to a standard classroom lesson of identify the "white powder" to bring an understanding of the microscopic nature of the powder contributing to the properties of the material. From seminars, such as the one from the NSF ERC Smart Lighting Center, several of the technology teachers were able to apply LED lighting that was incorporated into their research (biosensors) into their classroom and utilized a demonstration of Morse Code in a variety of different ways. The evaluations of the first three years of the NSF RET in Biophotonics were strongly positive, and offered evidence of STEM curricular enhancements resulting from RET participation. Most participants reported that the program helped them gain insight into research and the scientific methods and how they could incorporate their experiences into the curriculum of study. Many teachers gained confidence in their engineering skills and were given new courses to teach, while others developed after school clubs to provide students with hands-on activities from the work that they had completed at BU. The reported challenges were incorporating research experiences into lesson plans and to enrich STEM curriculum aimed at meeting district standards. Demographics of participants: The following table provides an overview of the schools that were involved with the NSF RET in Biophotonics Sensors and Systems. There were twenty-one public schools and three private schools. Out of the twenty-eight teachers, six teachers were pre-service teachers (two per year for the three years of the award). School Name Location School Name Location Diamond MS Lexington, MA City on a Hill Charter Public HS Roxbury, MA John T. Nichols MS Middleborough, MA Pioneer Valley Regional School Northfield, MA Marblehead Veterans MS Marblehead, MA Quabbin Regional HS Barre, MA Overlook MS Ashburnham, MA Quincy HS Quincy, MA Robert H. Adams MS Holliston, MA Somerville HS Somerville MA Sanborn Regional MS Newton, NH Swampscott HS Swampscott, MA Sharon MS Sharon, MA TechBoston Upper Academy Dorchester, MA Norwood HS Norwood, MA The English HS Boston, MA English High School Boston, MA Wayland HS Wayland, MA Marshfield HS Marshfield, MA * St. John's Preparatory School Danvers, MA Natick HS Natick, MA * Bancroft School Worchester, MA Weymouth HS Weymouth, MA * BC HS Boston, MA * Indicates a private school, MS = Middle School, HS = High School Key outcomes or Other achievements: Gary Smith, a teacher from Cohort 1, presented the results of his research with PI, Hatice Altug at several different conferences AAPT Spring 2011 and 2013 and the Fall 2012 APS Conference. Ashley Lagas attended the NAWI 2014 conference in Oregon in May 2014 and was able to find many new contacts to network with for STEM opportunities. The teachers have continued to communicate with each other through the course of the RET Site, establishing long term professional relationships. The teachers also have worked closely with the PI’s to continue to communication with outreach potentials with Boston University. A few examples of continuous STEM participation includes: Cohort 1 teachers Gary Smith and Rick Comeau who generated several nanocamp activities related to their research. These nanocamp activities continue to be used for various outreach efforts at BU. Cohort 3 and 4 teachers Maureen Chase and Michelle McMillan initiated new courses (engineering tinkering) and clubs (robotics) at their schools for STEM related activities. Cohort 1 and 4 teacher Ashley Lagas introduced MEMS processing for middle school students after her second summer at BU. Cohort 3 and 4 teacher Stephanie Giglio upgraded her afterschool club with tools to allow them to compete the Science League. Cohort 2 and 4 teacher Jessica Leach, a newly established teacher of less than two years is currently teaching an Advanced Placement Physics class at her school.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC)
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Mary Poats
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Boston University
United States
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