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Title: First Year Experience from RET Site: High School Teacher Experience in Engineering Design and Manufacturing
In 2019, University of Houston (UH) at Houston, Texas was awarded an NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET) site grant titled “RET Site: High School Teacher Experience in Engineering Design and Manufacturing.” The goal of the project is to host 12 high school teachers each summer to participate in engineering design and manufacturing research and then convert their experience into high school curriculum. In summer of 2021, the first cohort of 12 teachers from Region 4 of Southeast Texas participated in the RET program at UH College of Technology (COT). This six-week program, open to local high school STEM teachers in Texas, sought to advance educators’ knowledge of concepts in design and manufacturing as a means of enriching high school curriculums and meeting foundational standards set by 2013’s Texas House Bill 5. These standards require enhanced STEM contents in high school curricula as a prerequisite for graduation, detailed in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standard. Due to the pandemic situation, about 50% of the activities are online and the rest are face to face. About 40% of the time, teachers attended online workshops to enhance their knowledge of topics in engineering design and manufacturing before embarking on applicable research projects in the labs. Six UH COT engineering technology professors each led workshops in a week. The four tenure-track engineering mentors, assisted by student research assistants, each mentored three teachers on projects ranging from additive manufacturing to thermal/fluids, materials, and energy. The group also participated in field trips to local companies including ARC Specialties, Master Flo, Re:3D, and Forged Components. They worked with two instructional track engineering technology professors and one professor of education on applying their learnings to lesson plan design. Participants also met weekly for online Brown Bag teacher seminars to share their experiences and discuss curricula, which was organized by the RET master teacher. On the final day of the program, the teachers presented their curriculum prototype for the fall semester to the group and received completion certificates. The program assessment was led by the assessment specialist, Director of Assessment and Accreditation at UH COT. Teacher participants found the research experience with their mentors beneficial not only to them, but also to their students according to our findings from interviews. The mentors will visit their mentees’ classrooms to see the lesson plans being implemented. In the spring of 2022, the teachers will present their refined curricula at a RET symposium to be organized at UH and submit their standards-aligned plans to for other K-12 educators to access.  more » « less
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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
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National Science Foundation
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