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UT Arlington Research Experiences for Teachers in Engineering

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Research Experiences for Teachers in Hazard Mitigation

Overview

The proposed RET site brings together a total of 22 high school STEM teachers from the Arlington, TX, and five other school districts from surrounding areas. The school district partners are: Arlington, Duncanville, Everman, Grand Prairie, Irving and Mansfield. All partner school districts have committed to participate in the proposed RET site if it is funded by the NSF. A total of (six) research projects have been identified for target teacher participation. The common theme of the RET site is Hazard Mitigation. All proposed research projects have this theme in their set-up, potential tasks and impact. The projects are sub-sets of larger funded research projects that are ongoing or have been recently completed by faculty researchers.

hydrology research

All projects tie in to the Disaster Mitigation Group at UT Arlington, a multi-disciplinary effort of faculty members, public and the private sectors. The proposed effort is being headed by Drs. Nur Yazdani and Yvette Weatherton from the Civil Engineering Department, and Dr. Stephanie Daza from the College of Education at UT Arlington, and includes a total of seven other faculty members, several graduate students, post docs, staff members and the teacher trainees. The multi-disciplinary group of faculty members comes from civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and education.

The project has significant intellectual focus and broad impacts that are likely to affect many high school students and high school STEM teachers in the Arlington, TX, and surrounding Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area of 5 million population. A high percentage of the benefited students and teachers are from under-represented groups, such as minorities, females and persons with disabilities. The participating teachers will be benefited through active and hands-on training in hazard mitigation themed research projects at UT Arlington. The group activities, involving faculty mentors, graduate students, post-docs, staff members and targeted teachers, will allow the teachers to gather knowledge on state-of-the-art research techniques, hazard mitigation issues related to engineering, application of various STEM topics in research, and associated ethical issues.

The long term goals of the project are:

  1. to educate and train high school STEM teachers in inquiry-based research learning, research design, execution and implementation, and in solving real-world hazard-related engineering problems with open-ended solutions;
  2. to have the participating teachers apply their research experiences in their classrooms through demonstration curricular modules and enhanced lesson plans;
  3. to train other STEM teachers in local high schools through active sharing of the knowledge gained by the trained teachers;
  4. to expose high school students to enhanced curricula, demonstration modules and lesson plans in order to improvise their learning skills, and relate their education to contemporary hazard events of critical importance;
  5. to improve the knowledge of local STEM teachers about engineering research and careers in engineering;
  6. to assist in the professional development of STEM teachers (including research execution, ethics training, and continuing education);
  7. to develop and nurture a long term mentorship and cooperative relationship between the UT Arlington engineering-education research group and the local school districts in order to foster teacher training, student development and student recruitment; and
  8. to focus on the training of under-represented groups of teachers and eventually students in the target school districts and beyond.

Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Section 230.5(b) requires every person seeking educator certification in the state to perform satisfactorily on TExES, a comprehensive examination. Mathematics, science and technology are integral parts of this test (TAC 2006). Texas school teachers must complete at least 20 clock hours of continuing professional education (CPE) per year during each five-year certification renewal period (Texas Education Code 2006). The proposed RET will be counted towards this teacher CPE requirement, because UT Arlington is an approved Texas institution of higher education for the CPE providing purposes. The RET effort also compliments well the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS; Mathematics, Science and Technology Applications); teachers must align all state school curricula with TEKS (Texas Education Code 2002). All partner school districts have made commitments to actively participate in the RET Site project. In addition, the UT Arlington College of Engineering and the College of Education are also committed to this RET project through the allocation of various resources.