Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville College of Engineering Offers Area Teachers Chance to Hone Research Skills

KINGSVILLE - June 14, 2011

Contact: Adriana Garza
adriana.garza@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4979

For 10 science teachers from across South Texas, school may be out for summer, but the next six weeks will be dedicated to the pursuit of higher learning, all with the goal of taking back what they learn to their own classrooms.

The teachers are participating in the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Teachers in Manufacturing for Competitiveness in the United States (RETainUS) at the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. RETainUS  strives to retain and advance the manufacturing base throughout the U.S. through meaningful changes in the teachers' understanding of manufacturing and how it relates to the math and science curriculum. The university is designated as a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) site under the larger, RETainUS program.

Through the RET site program, area teachers are provided the opportunity to improve the comprehension of the research and development process through hands-on experience and real world problems that relate to advancing the state of the art in conventional manufacturing processes; new trends in manufacturing such as rapid prototyping; emerging technologies such as nanomaterials; and enabling technologies serving manufacturing processes.

Dr. Mohamed Abdelrahman, associate dean of the College of Engineering, said the program is an important opportunity to further ensure math and engineering concepts are promoted in schools.

"The research experience for teachers in engineering is one of the best conduits for the teachers, and in turn their students, to learn about what engineering and engineering research are all about," Abdelrahman said. "Many teachers have a limited understanding of what engineers do and hence cannot properly identify and advise students who could be good candidates for an engineering career. Teachers also struggle in explaining to students where and why much of the mathematical and scientific concepts are needed," he said.

"The teachers' research experiences provide each of the teachers with a practical context within which these abstract mathematical and scientific concepts come to life," Abdelrahman added.  "Last, but not least, immersing the teachers in true research environments provides them with great professional development and growth opportunities."

Each teacher receives a $6,000 stipend.  . Participants include math/science educators from Del Mar College and the following school districts:

Flour Bluff ISDAlice ISDKingsville ISDRiviera ISDBishop ISDPharr/San Juan/Alamo ISD

Additionally, one teacher from Crossville, Tennessee is also participating in the program.

During the six-week, 40-hour a week program, teachers must develop their own research plan, while working closely with an assigned faculty mentor and graduate student. Research topics this year include:

Characterizations of Nanomaterials and Devices for Electronic ApplicationCitrus Waste Conversion to BiofuelsRemediation of Groundwater Quality in Areas Targeted for Uranium Mining

"This type of program really gives ownership to the teachers, since they're responsible for developing their research plan  in consultation with  their mentors who also help them see the bigger picture and how their research fits within the bigger research plan," Abdelrahman said.

 At the end of the six weeks, the teachers present their research during the program's closing banquet on July 13. But the program doesn't end there—teachers have one year to utilize the knowledge they've gained in the classroom to continue the legacy cycle, Abdelrahman said. Teachers are charged with developing a curriculum learning module based on their research experience and then implement the module in their own classrooms. Each teacher receives a $2,000 as a mini grant to use to implement their module.


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