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From September 27-29, 2019, the Society will welcome 200 high school science research teachers to Washington, D.C. at the Research Teachers Conference (RTC). The weekend event will give attendees an opportunity to share best practices and unique challenges they face in supporting students in independent science research.
“The remarkable thing about this conference is that it is completely peer-led. The Society shares the resources we offer, such as Science News in High Schools and the STEM Research Grants, but the sessions regarding aspects of student research are led by the attendees themselves,” explained Caitlin Sullivan, the Society’s Director of Outreach & Equity. “Captains and veteran attendees are paired to lead breakout sessions to provide multiple perspectives on how to approach student research. The enthusiasm we hear from teachers is not due to any judging secrets or specialized training we provide–it stems from the reinvigoration and empowerment teachers feel after connecting with others who share their passion for student research.”
In its 5th year, the RTC is open to high school research teachers nationwide and attendees are selected via lottery. One-third consist of veteran teachers who have significant experience teaching research, a third have some research teaching experience while the remaining third are teachers who do not have experience yet, but would like to begin mentoring students in their own independent STEM research projects.
Ahead of this year’s conference, we caught up with a few 2018 attendees to see how their participation last year impacted their students and classrooms this year.
Little Rock Central High Little Rock, Arkansas
“Thank you for the opportunity to attend this remarkable event. The Research Teachers Conference is the most informative, learning professional development event that I have ever attended. I found myself wanting to attend two sessions at once at some points because I didn't want to miss anything! Hats off to all those who make the RTC possible.”
From the Heart Christian School, Suitland, Maryland
“Our school is truly benefiting from what I learned at the conference. This year, we had an ISEF finalist and accompanied him to Arizona for the fair. Our teachers are more informed since the conference and have had a great amount of success in our regional fair. Our students won more than 40 awards at the Prince George’s Area Science Fair and we attribute that success to the training of their teacher-mentors.”
The Urban Assembly School for Global Commerce, New York City, New York
“Since attending the conference, I have developed our school's first research club. This year my students studied, "The effects of different nutrient solutions on the growth of Peppermint Plants in Hydroponic Systems." My students’ work was selected to be presented at a citywide science research symposium held at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City! Although they were both nervous and excited, I felt confident that what I learned at the conference helped me to prepare my students for this event.”
Arizona College Preparatory, Chandler, Arizona
“Thank you for having me at the conference last year, where I met fellow teacher Aidyl Gonzales from California. I am happy to share that we are collaborating on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant application this year. Our goal is to create a biophysics pipeline from high school to college. We hope to facilitate student internship positions at local universities and expand opportunities for students who attend underprivileged schools. We are also thinking about a few other ways California and Arizona can collaborate; I am so happy.”
Southcrest Christian School, Lubbock, Texas
“I had 23 teams enter the STEM research competition, Ecybermission, this year. My 6th and 7th grade teams were the national winners. Some of the ideas we had for better research came as a result of my attending the Research Teachers Conference last fall.”
With robust teacher interest in additional regional Research Teachers Conferences, sponsors can help make these new events possible to spark students’ interest in science research. Sponsors are sought for possible new conferences in key states such as New Mexico, Ohio and Tennessee, with new sites expressing interest every day from local partners. Contact Carole Russo to find out more.
Independence in conducting science research can have many benefits for students.