WPI Accepting Applications for New Summer Research Program for Middle School Science and Math Teachers

Local Teachers Will Conduct High-Level Biomedical Engineering Research and Learn to Bring Inquiry Based Learning in their Classrooms
Media Contact
March 17, 2008

WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute is accepting applications for a new six-week summer research program for middle school science, mathematics, and technology teachers from the Worcester area interested in learning more about biomedical engineering and inquiry-based learning. The program, which begins this summer, is limited to eight teachers. The application deadline is April 1.

Participating teachers will receive a $5,000 stipend for the summer program. An additional $1,000 may be earned by completing follow-up activities during the school year.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the program, which will run from June 30 to August 8, will provide an opportunity for teachers to work side-by-side with WPI faculty members in the new WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center on high-level research projects in such areas as tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and infection control on biomaterials. To gain first-hand experience with scientific inquiry, they will read scientific literature, design and execute an experiment, and analyze their data. The teachers will be mentored by WPI faculty members and will be able to collaborate with WPI graduate assistants.

About 20 percent of the teachers’ time will be spent developing ideas and lesson plan for incorporating inquiry-based learning in their own classrooms during the 2008-09 academic year. During the school year, the teachers will be required to attend two Saturday workshops and to write at least one blog entry a month charting their progress in implementing their lesson plans.

“The goal of the program is to enhance student learning in engineering in middle schools by encouraging teachers use the tools of inquiry-based learning, which have been shown to be highly effective at helping students understand and apply complex ideas,” said Terri A. Camesano, associate professor of chemical engineering at WPI co-director of the program. “Since middle school is a time when many students—especially girls—lose their enthusiasm for science, math, and engineering, we are hopeful that by making engineering instruction more interactive and engaging, we will encourage more students to consider engineering as a possible career as they move on to high school and college.”

Camesano said teachers who participate in the program will earn professional development points and may also be eligible to graduate credit. Additional information and an application form may be found online.