Eleven North Texas middle and high school teachers had a chance to become researchers during a six-week National Science Foundation program at UNT offered in summer 2012.
In June, UNT had 11 teachers from the Dallas-Fort Worth area who participated in the university's Research Experiences for Teachers in Sensor Networks program. The program gives teachers the opportunity to conduct engineering-based research projects while also learning how to translate their experiences into innovative classroom lessons. The program is funded by a $499,932 NSF grant that started in 2011 and will run through 2013.
"This program is crucial to promote STEM disciplines among high school students in the North Texas region. We critically need our youth to consider engineering among their first choices for college. Engaging their teachers in university research goes a long way in accomplishing this goal," says Miguel Acevedo, Regents Professor of electrical engineering and coordinator of UNT's Research Experience for Teachers program.
This is the second year that UNT has offered the Research Experience for Teachers program. UNT also ran a pilot program in 2009. This year's participants used electrical engineering concepts and tools to investigate air and water quality, the impact of emissions on the area's carbon footprint and the ability to equip robots with depth-capable vision.
The eleven participants came from six different school districts and teach subjects from chemistry and algebra to aerospace engineering and aquatic science. The participants were:
- Zachary Bunn, R.L. Turner High School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD
- José Guerrero, R.L. Turner High School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD
- Lori Wolf, Navo Middle School in the Denton ISD
- Jesse C. Bell, Skyline High School in the Dallas ISD
- Kimberly Garrett, Northwest High School in the Northwest ISD
- Elizabeth Georgette Jordan, Emmett J. Conrad High School in the Dallas ISD
- Blaine Chamberlain, Newman Smith High School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD
- Ashley Sink, Northwest High School in the Northwest ISD
- Karl Gscheidle, R.L. Turner High School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD
- Sharon Wood, Marcus High School in the Lewisville ISD
- Donn Arnold, Krum High School in the Krum ISD
This year, Wood and Arnold, who both participated in the 2009 pilot and the 2011 Research Experience for Teachers, served as Master Teachers, helping the other participants make the most of the program.
Both teachers have integrated lessons related to the research projects they completed last year into their courses. Wood used aquatic wireless network sensors to develop a sustainable aquarium system for growing plants and Arnold developed a two-way audio-visual broadcasting system using Wimba and Adobe software that allows teachers and students to interact with researchers at UNT in real-time. Christina Wasson, professor of anthropology, who specializes in virtual collaboration, has assessed this innovative education RET tool named "Weblab."
This year's program teachers were mentored by UNT faculty:
The teachers also worked closely with electrical engineering, computer science and biology graduate students.
Alyssa Yancey with UNT News Service can be reached at Alyssa.Yancey@unt.edu.