The RESET program allows teachers to conduct research in a real lab with professional mentoring and take the knowledge they gain back to the classroom. RESET, or Research Experiences for STEM Educators and Teachers, offers 60 hours of online summer learning to a select group of teachers and then places some of them in an Army lab to work for a month.
Applications are open now. To find out more about the program, we contacted its director, Dr. Jennifer Meadows, Assistant Professor in STEM and Mathematics education at Tennessee Technological University.
Q: Describe the RESET program. Who can apply to participate?
A: RESET provides an experiential learning opportunity for STEM educators interested in conducting research with an Army scientist or engineer mentor. Selected teachers participate in a cohort, completing 60 hours of online learning in two segments, for Level I status. The online learning is facilitated by the RESET staff at Tennessee Technological University; upon completion, participants receive a stipend.
A subset of the cohort will experience four weeks of research time at an Army research lab, as Level II status. While at the Army research lab site, the Level II cohort members continue to interact with the RESET staff at Tennessee Tech as well as with their mentors on site. The Level II participants receive four weeks of stipend, along with travel support (airfare and/or mileage, car rental, etc.), housing costs and per diem.
Eligible applicants are STEM educators of students in high school or upper middle grades, with a focus on teachers coming from high needs areas working with underserved populations.
Underserved populations include students from low-income families; students belonging to race and ethnic minorities that are historically underrepresented in STEM (i.e., Alaska natives, Native Americans, blacks or African Americans, Hispanics, native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders); students with disabilities; students with English as a second language; first-generation college-bound students; students in rural, frontier or other federal targeted outreach schools; and females in certain STEM fields (e.g., physical science, computer science, mathematics or engineering).
Q: Why partner with the Army and Department of Defense scientists?
A: The RESET program recognizes the strengths of direct mentorship for teachers working alongside Army and Department of Defense (DoD) scientists and engineers. By spending four weeks at an Army research lab, the RESET cohort members (Level II status) directly experience how research is conducted on a daily basis.
Joining in all aspects of research work, from initial ideas and brainstorming through project planning and development of data collection and analysis, provides real contexts for the RESET cohort members to take back to the classroom. The Army and DoD scientists and engineers as mentors offer RESET participants a chance to develop their understanding of what careers in STEM research look like and how they are achieved.
The direct interaction with mentors provides a more personal and accessible “story” for students to comprehend, because their teachers will have narratives to share from their RESET time in the Army research lab. At the same time, the mentors gain insights into how teachers are engaging their students with important STEM learning objectives. Enriching what the mentors know about how students learn, this can benefit other STEM outreach work these mentors might be doing, for example, in other AEOP program initiatives such as GEMS (Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science) or eCybermission (a STEM-based competition).
Q: How is the RESET program linked to classroom learning?
A: The RESET cohort members create lesson(s) and/or units of lessons inspired by the research work that the Level II cohort members have conducted with the mentors at Army research labs. These lessons are developed over 30 hours of online time during Module 3 by teams of cohort members using the 5E format to generate project-based learning challenges that place students at the center of their own learning.
Q: The collaborative element seems to be a big part of the RESET program. Why is this factor so important?
A: The RESET program can support a limited number of teachers for the four weeks at a research lab. These cohort members are referred to as Level II status. To strengthen the reach and impact of the RESET program, a larger number of teachers are supported with online learning time.
The cohort approach fosters immediate results for the RESET participants, who might be selected from all over the United States or worldwide in the case of STEM educators participating from DoD schools. Meeting together in the virtual learning space and responding to the same learning challenge create a shared experience. Throughout the RESET program, the cohort members are sharing a wealth of teaching experiences with one another. This process mimics the collaborative nature of research teams, where scientists and engineers work together in pursuit of new knowledge or the creation and development of designs.
Q: What other important takeaways do participants gain?
A: Each of the RESET cohort members, Level I and Level II, expands his or her professional network of peers in STEM education through a shared experiential learning opportunity. The RESET program is designed to welcome participants from across the United States, and this creates a wonderful venue for teachers to share best practices from diverse settings.
The Level II teachers make lasting connections with Army and DoD scientist and engineer mentors working with exciting research projects within the Army research labs.
The RESET program encourages individuals to become a community of STEM educators committed to providing rigorous learning experiences for their students through relevant contexts, inspired by the research being conducted in Army labs. The RESET lesson plans are not only available to each member of the cohort, but also, over time, these lessons, developed by teachers for teachers, will be shared with a broader audience of STEM educators for open source use.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about this program?
A: RESET seeks to empower K-12 STEM educators to incorporate research-based best practices in STEM education by immersing educators in real-world research at Army research laboratories, while leveraging unique Army resources and the mentorship of world-class Army Scientists & Engineers. We strive to increase educator awareness of and interest in STEM careers across the DoD. Our program promotes collaboration and problem-solving in a team environment, and supports educators as they create effective STEM research curricula based on their real-world research experiences. Ultimately, we endeavor to increase students’ awareness and interest in STEM content and in STEM careers in the DoD using authentic real-world context drawn from their teacher’s experiences with research at Army research laboratories.
Here is our timeline for the 2021 RESET cohort:
- Level I Application period ends – October 2
- Module 1: Research & 5E Overview – October 12–November 13
- Level II Application period begins – November 16
- Army Scientists and Engineers Discussions – January, February, and March
- Level II Application period ends – February 15
- Module 2: Level II Onsite Research Experience – June–July
- Module 3: STEM Lesson Creation – July–August
- Lesson Plan Presentations/ End of Program Cycle – August
For ongoing information, visit: https://www.usaeop.com/programs/stem-enrichment-activities/reset/