Research Experiences for Teachers

Summer 2019

The Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Applied Biological Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geology and Geological Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at South Dakota Mines have partnered with the local secondary school districts, including high-need schools, in South Dakota to develop a professional development program for 6-12th grade science and mathematics teachers in response to the National Science Foundation sponsored Research Experience for Teachers (RET) in Engineering and Computer Science program. The Sustainable Development - Research Experience for Teachers (SD-RET) Site at Mines introduces participating 6-12th grade science and mathematics teachers to emerging sustainable technologies within engineering and science.   The 6-12th grade teachers, as SD-RET Research Assistants, work alongside Faculty and Graduate and Undergraduate students to discover sustainable solutions to regional and national challenges.  The SD-RET Research Assistants will bring the knowledge and skills they acquired back into their science and mathematics classes and curriculum.

Many children in rural areas, such as South Dakota, become interested in STEM disciplines while watching their parents and/or neighbors work with machinery, fix engines, and build sturdy structures on farms and ranches. K-12 STEM education is responsible to nurture and prepare these students for STEM majors in college; to ultimately become productive and creative engineers and scientists. Unfortunately in the Nation and in South Dakota a large fraction of K-12 students become disengaged to the STEM pathway.

Engineering and scientific research applies mathematical concepts and principles in engineering and science to solve real-world problems. When these subjects are integrated into 6-12th grade curricula, the students learn to connect the abstract principles to practical aspect of science and mathematics and consequently become more motivated to learn more about STEM subjects. However, many K-12 teachers, especially those teaching in rural America, do not have sufficient research experience in the science or engineering fields to design and implement related science/technology projects in the classroom. 

The primary goal of the project is to provide 6-12th grade STEM teachers with a rich research experience so that they can enhance their teaching efficacy in middle and high schools.  We accomplish this goal through a comprehensive collaborative professional development program that includes lab-based research experience in engineering and science and an interactive graduate course on curriculum design and pedagogy.  The specific objectives of the SD-RET program are the followings:

Objective 1: Assist teachers in applying their engineering and science research skills to developing curricula based on national and state standards;

Objective 2: Measure the effect of the SD-RET experience on teachers’ attitudes toward engineering and science as well as their competencies in developing and implementing an integrated curriculum;

Objective 3: Measure the effect of the new curricula on middle and high school students’ attitudes, level of achievement, and engagement in STEM.

Objective 4: Create opportunities for middle and high school science and mathematics teachers to partner with research faculty in engineering and science laboratories at South Dakota Mines and industries partners to expand laboratory skills.

Current Projects:

1. Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Development for Water Resources Protection

2.  The “City of Microbes” (Biofilm) to Upcycle Greenhouse Gases into Biological Batteries
3.  Sustainable Infrastructure Materials
4.  Climate Change in the Northern Great Plains
5.  Polysaccharide-based Biodegradable Polymers, Synthesis and Characterization
6.  Sustainable Energy Generation and Storage
7.  Engineering a Methanotroph for Enhanced Biopolymers Production from Methane


Application Process

Research Experience Teacher 

1. Submit:
CV, Vitae, Resume, Biography

2. Submit: 
1 page brief of how you will utilize this experience in your classrooms/teaching

3. Project preference:
list your top two choices

4. Submit:
Send All items to Robb Winter via email: