Local Science Teachers Experience Research in NanoTechnology

A local science teacher, Aubrey Wachtel, performs research on quantum dots in an Illinois lab.

July 9, 2014

For the next three years, a number of area science teachers will have an opportunity to participate in the Nano@illinois RET, where they will not only learn about, but actually participate in, cutting edge research in nanotechnology and even adapt some of what they have learned for students in their classrooms.

Funded by the National Science Foundation through its Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program, Nano@illinois is providing research experiences for four local teachers during its first summer of operation. According to RET Coordinator Carrie Kouadio, while the main thrust is for teachers to have an opportunity to do research, the program’s creators intend for teachers to receive several additional benefits while participating:

Carrie Kouadio (left) interacts with a student at a local science fair Kouadio helps organize.
Carrie Kouadio (left) interacts with a student at a local science fair Kouadio helps organize.

“The big overarching goal is that these teachers will gain experience in research in cutting-edge, world-class laboratories with outstanding faculty in science and engineering for the purpose of increasing content knowledge, increasing lab skill knowledge.”

In addition to increasing knowledge about the subject matter, teachers will also develop materials students in their own classrooms will be able to use. The program's professional development will guide them in creating “high-quality modules that are based on the research that they did in the summer that they can disseminate with their students, schools.”

Their own students are not the only ones who will benefit: these multi-day modules will include an instructional guide for teachers, student resources, and a PowerPoint. Thus other teachers across the nation will be able to use them with their students as well. “The resources they create are going to be disseminated nationally through various hubs,” adds Kouadio.

She also expects participants to have enough “meat” to actually write articles about what they’ve done to submit to various science education journals.

Since the summer of 2014 is the program's first year, rather than recruiting the full complement of teachers, RET planners decided to start small with only four. “This year,” says Kouadio, “we’re trying to set the vision for what the program is going to look like in summers of 2015, 2016, and 2017, when we’ll have our full cohort of 14 teachers.”

The teachers are from both large urban high schools, and smaller rural schools: Champaign’s Central, Mahomet Seymour, University Laboratory, and Villa Grove. In addition, teachers were intentionally chosen from several disciplines: chemistry (two), biology, and physics. Says Kouadio: “We also wanted to go across the content areas so we get a sense of building the program for the future.”

She also says that they chose participants who would help shape the program for the remaining three years: “We definitely looked for teachers who were outstanding applicants, but also teachers we thought would be able to contribute to the development of the program. So people who gave us indication that they would be able to give guidance on what’s good, what needs to be improved, would be able to think about envisioning the program for future years. So that was very important for this year.”

What does Kouadio hope the teachers get from the experience? “I want them to have a really meaningful lab experience,” says Kouadio, “to feel like they learned new skills, new content knowledge in the lab; to feel like they can apply the things they learned to their own classroom so that their students can benefit and other students more broadly can benefit. Also, I hope that they will find the professional development sessions very useful."

Story and photographs by Elizabeth Innes, Communications Specialist, I-STEM Education Initiative.
More: MNTL, Nano@illinois, RET, Summer Research, Teacher Professional Development, 2014

For additional istem articles on the Nano@illinois RET, please see:

2014 RET Participant Dan Reed, a physics teacher for Champaign Central High School.

Nobel Project’s End-of-Year Zoom Bash Recaps Learning

February 1, 2022
The STEM Illinois Nobel Project held a special, end-of-the-year Zoom event celebrating its participating students’ achievements.
Full Story

It’s not magic, it’s physics

January 26, 2022
In Franklin STEAM Academy, Musical Magnetism program makes STEM fun, approachable.
Full Story

Program prepares STEM educators to teach all students

November 30, 2021
This summer, a group of educators gathered to learn about engaging STEM activities they can do with their students.
Full Story

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program

November 11, 2021
Undergrads get a taste of research through I-MRSEC’s REU program.
Full Story

Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp

November 1, 2021
Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp Incorporates Art, Design, Mechatronics, and Mentoring
Full Story

TechTogether Chicago to Redefine the Hacker Stereotype

July 10, 2021
New workshops that can help inspire students to pursue careers in technology..
Full Story

Aerospace Engineering Launches Virtual Summer Camps to Pique Students’ Interest in Aero.

July 2, 2021
Design an aircraft then watch it soar after launching it with a huge rubber band. Build a Mars lander to safely transport a real egg, then test the contraption by dropping it from a second story window.
Full Story

Undergrads Experience Materials Science Research Courtesy of the I-MRSEC REU

June 16, 2021
Ten undergraduate students are spending the summer of 2021 discovering what research is like.
Full Story

MatSE Afterschool Academy

MatSE Afterschool Academy

June 14, 2021
MatSE Afterschool Academy to Introduce Students to Materials Science and Beyond.
Full Story

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

June 14, 2021
Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest While Researching Task Collaboration.
Full Story

Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS

What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like?

May 25, 2021
NSBE’s Michaela Horn Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS, and What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like.
Full Story

Jenny Saves a Convertible.

Children’s-Book-Writing Duo/

May 19, 2021
Convertibles and Thunderstorms—Children’s-Book-Writing Duo on Their Way Thanks to Illinois Training and Encouragement from Mentors.
Full Story

Improve Learning in Engineering

Improve Learning in Engineering

May 17, 2021
Liebenberg Espouses Mini-Projects to Engage Students Emotionally, Improve Learning in Engineering.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

BIOE435 Capstone Projects

May 12, 2021
BIOE435 Capstone Projects - BIOE Seniors Use Knowledge/Skills to Problem Solve.
Full Story

Elani and Gonzalo shine a UV light on a rose that has absorbed a solution that has made it fluorescent.

Illinois Scientists Shine a (UV) Light on Fluorescence

May 7, 2021
What is fluorescence? What causes it?
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

HackIllinois 2021 “Rekindled Connections” With The Tech Community

May 5, 2021
Annual student hackathon HackIllinois with the aim of developing projects on current problems facing society.
Full Story

A Shane Mayer-Gawlik image of the Bridger Aurora, part of his Night Skies photography collection exhibited at the Art-Science Festival.

The Art-Science Festival

April 26, 2021
Illinois Art-Science Festival: Illuminating the Universe...from the Quantum World to the Cosmos.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World

April 22, 2021
Ready. Set. Go! Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World.
Full Story

HML 2021 Virtual Health

HML 2021 Virtual Health

April 19, 2021
Make-a-Thon Gives Citizen Scientists a Shot at Making Their Health-Related Innovations a Reality.
Full Story

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

April 7, 2021
I-MRSEC’s Music Video for EOH ’21 Plugs Graphene, 2D Materials
Full Story

Health Make-a-Thon Orientation

HML 2021 Health Orientation

March 30, 2021
HML 2021 Health Make-a-Thon Orientation Prepares Finalists for Competition.
Full Story

Andrea Perry shows Franklin students how to take apart the magnetic drawing board they received in their kit

Musical Magnetism

March 25, 2021
Musical Magnetism: Encouraging Franklin Middle Schoolers to Express Science Via the Arts.
Full Story

Carmen Paquette street performing.

Love of Science

March 9, 2021
Paquette Conveys Her Love of Science, Dance to Franklin STEAM Students Via Musical Magnetism.
Full Stroy

An Engineering Exploration participant exhibits the tower they built as part of the engineering challenge related to Civil Engineering

Engineering Exploration

March 2, 2021
SWE’s Engineering Exploration Outreach Lives Up to Its Name.

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

February 23, 2021
Helps Chicago Youngsters Progress Along the STEM Pipeline Toward Engineering.

Kathny Walsh

Kathy Walsh

February 17, 2021
On Her First Foray into STEAM, Kathy Walsh Acquaints Franklin Students with Microscopy, Haiku.

ChiS&E student

ChiS&E CPS Students

January 19, 2021
Illinois Undergrads Encourage ChiS&E CPS Students Toward Possible Careers in Engineering.

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

CISTEME365 Provides Year-Round PD/Community

January 4, 2021
to Illinois Teachers in Support of Informal STEM Education Efforts to Underserved Students.