RET Cohort of 2019
The RET cohort of 2019 poses for a picture during Capstone Week at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez.
Develop New Activities
RET fellows test their peer's newly designed activity to synthesize graphene in a high school classroom.
The RET cohort of 2019 poses at La Cueva Ventana in Puerto Rico while learning about the local ecosystem.
RET fellows, mentors, and education staff collaboratively develop new activities that the teacher will implement in their classes.
A History of Excellence
Our RET program has a long history of developing successful, engaging new activities. Join us on a science and research adventure!
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What is the RET Program?
The Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is an opportunity for high school teachers to participate in authentic, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research. During the summer of 2021, the RET program will have a hybrid of virtual and optional in-person activities, with the level of in-person activities dependent on the outlook of the pandemic in the summer. The research in 2021 will focus primarily on “machine learning”, a subset of artificial intelligence that involves creating a computer model, training it on known data, and using it to make predictions. Machine learning is applicable to all science and mathematics classes. Accepted participants will learn about this technology, create a machine learning model, and then develop an activity for the students in their classrooms based on machine learning.
The 2021 RET program lasts for seven weeks (Monday, June 14th to Friday, July 30th, 2021) and includes a $6,000 stipend and supplies as needed to develop the classroom activity. Applications are due March 14, 2021.
As an RET fellow, you will take part in research meetings and have the opportunity to attend virtual seminars from renowned researchers. Our MRSEC staff will help you develop your activities and will continue to work with you as you implement, document, and evaluate your activity in your classroom. Activities will be disseminated to other teachers through MRSEC websites and initiatives as well as through state and national educational avenues.
NOTE: Capstone week in the 2021 RET program will depend on the outlook of the pandemic at that time.
The RET program culminates in a capstone week experience with our partners from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. During capstone week, which alternates locations, RET fellows from Puerto Rico and Wisconsin meet to share their projects and activities, learn about each other’s cultures, and tour educational sites. All capstone week expenses will be covered by the Wisconsin MRSEC.
RET Program Goals
The Wisconsin MRSEC RET program has two main goals:
1. We will provide science teachers with an authentic research experience
2. We will team up with teachers to create new science learning activities for youth inspired by MRSEC research
The MRSEC is an interdisciplinary group of researchers from diverse fields of science and engineering seeking to address critical gaps in our understanding of disordered materials and the emergence of order from disordered materials. In the Interdisciplinary Education Group, we use examples of nanotechnology and advanced materials to enhance public understanding of fundamental science and engineering concepts and to share the excitement and potential of these interdisciplinary fields with K-12 audiences and the general public.
How to Apply
Please apply for the 2021 RET program! Applications will close in the evening of Sunday, March 14th, 2021.
In the application you will be asked to provide a CV or resume and your reasons for wanting to join the program. Please contact the coordinator, Matthew Stilwell, with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
PLEASE NOTE: The 2021 RET program will be mostly virtual, with optional in-person activities.
Q: What does the schedule look like for the RET Program?
A: The RET program is a full time (~40 hours/week) professional development program. RET fellows are expected to work in their labs Monday though Friday. The specific hours depend on the mentor’s schedule and the laboratory’s culture (e.g. some groups keep a 9 am – 5 pm schedule while others may start later in the day). Scientific research can be unpredictable, so occasionally experiments may need to be done over a weekend or may finish early. We encourage communication between mentors and RET fellows to ensure all participants understand their expectations.
Q: Does the program cover housing and travel costs?
A: No, the program does not specifically cover housing and travel. The RET program does provides a stipend to each fellow that can be used as the fellow chooses, potentially for housing and travel costs. If the program’s capstone week is held away from Madison, we will cover travel and lodging at the capstone week location.
Q: What does an ideal RET candidate look like?
A: An ideal RET candidate is a middle or high school science, engineering, technology, or mathematics (STEM) teacher who has experience developing engaging, hands-on educational activities and who has a passion for STEM education.
Q: Are there any specific educational backgrounds that would be helpful for success in the RET program?
A: Having an educational background in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics (STEM) will improve your chances of quickly getting up to speed in your research laboratory and understanding that research. An understanding of chemistry and/or physics is particularly useful. With that said, we have hosted teachers who did not have a STEM background and they excelled in the program. A passion for STEM and a willingness to learn can be your greatest assets!
Past RET Activities