The Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics

Towson University Center for STEM Excellence

Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) Project

Invitation to be a Research Sponsor

The Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) Project invites you and your organization to become an integral part of this exciting STEM teacher professional development initiative. Funded by a grant from NASA, the BEST Project aims to improve secondary level (grades 6 through 12) science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Each of our teachers will participate in a 6-week summer research experience at a Baltimore-area laboratory research facility. This opportunity will immerse BEST teachers in "real world" STEM research and allow them to become contributing members of a research team. Authentic research internships will expose BEST teachers to cutting-edge content and technology as well as hands-on laboratory experiences that they will then translate into engaging and relevant classroom activities for their students.

Summer research internships will be at least 6 weeks in length, not to exceed 8 weeks. The research sponsor and teacher will work together to determine the exact schedule for the summer internship. BEST teacher-interns are expected to work a full 40 hour week. We hope that teacher research experiences will be well-planned in advance, with specific work goals, activities, and outcomes. Projects for teachers should be meaningful, active, and reflect the true nature of STEM professional research. Interns are encouraged to think carefully about their role as a member of a research team and how it relates to their role as a teacher. They are asked to look for examples of how to link the research experience to science and mathematics teaching and outreach. Interns are also asked to keep a reflective record of their experiences in a journal.

The mentor scientist/researcher is a critical component for a successful summer experience. The mentor must take an active role by clearly defining an appropriate research project, providing guidance, training and support, and serving as a role model for the teacher intern. The mentor must be genuinely interested in STEM education and can assist in meeting the goals of the BEST Project research internship by:

  • Enabling the teacher to complete a meaningful research assignment that is valuable to the research site and appropriately challenges the intern.
  • Enriching the intern's content knowledge and skills in STEM including a first-hand experience with how scientific and mathematical knowledge is generated.
  • Motivating interns to promote career opportunities in STEM and STEM literacy among students.
If the research sponsor has already received grants for an REU, RET, or similar STEM initiative, we view the inclusion of a BEST Project teacher intern as an opportunity to further develop research team and communication skills.

In addition to providing authentic experience in a STEM research field, the BEST Project hopes to foster long-term relationships between research mentors and BEST teachers. A culminating product of the BEST Project is the development and implementation of a curriculum module containing lessons based on the content, skills, or data from the summer research experience. Throughout the school year following the research internship, mentors are expected to engage in regular communication with their teacher, serving as a resource and collaborator for translating the summer research experience into inquiry-based personally relevant student activities. Mentors may also choose to co-present with their teacher-partner at a local, state, or national professional conference or host a site visit for their teacher-partner's students or the school's STEM-related club.

Are you interested in participating as a research mentor?





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