Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
According to a 2014 Brookings Institution study, employers in all industries highly demand Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills, yet workforce readiness does not meet this demand, indicating a gap between employer need and employee knowledge. Specifically, only 44% of high school students were prepared for college level math and 36% ready for college-level science (Rothwell). To directly address this need the Colorado Bioscience Institutes Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program provides educators with practical, hands-on knowledge and experience to enhance their teaching practice for their students. RET is a rigorous, evidence-based professional development program that builds collaborative partnerships between grade 6-12 teachers and industry scientists from leading companies in Colorado. Through the RET program teachers participate in applied, industry-relevant STEM research projects and mentoring activities that facilitate the translation of new knowledge into the classroom. Teachers spend 4 weeks over the summer in the companies, 32 hours a week, and then 8 hours a week in professional development for a total of 30 hours of professional development. Providing science teachers with applied research and hands-on professional development opportunities in STEM industries will improve students' attitudes toward school, interest in STEM careers and long-range educational success thereby bridging the gap between employer needs and student skillsets. The Institute seeks to increase the number of teachers and industry partners in the RET program, as there is a waiting list of teachers and districts interested in participating in the program.
The Institute will receive their latest metrics report in November 2015, assessing impacts on teachers, students and bioscience company employees involved.. Additionally, the Institute informally surveys RET participants for qualitative information. The 2014 & 2015 RET cohorts provided this feedback about the program's efficacy:
"This program places the teacher where Science happens every day in an ongoing productive manner which is cutting edge and provides engagement beyond a university experience. True inquiry in practice with people who are excited and dedicated to their work.""I was pushed out of my comfort zone just like a student. It was great!"
"My lab experience will forever change the way I do labs in my classroom."
"My experience made me more aware of career opportunities available to students and specific ways labs operate."
"The planning time provided through PDs and help in making connections was so helpful for taking this experience back to the classroom."