Opportunities for Teachers

Summer 2019 teacher participants visit the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor at the Penn State University Park campus.

Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Program

The Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Program offered by the Center for Nanoscale Science is a sister program to the Nanoscale Physics & Interdisciplinary Materials summer program for undergraduates hosted in partnership with the Department of Physics. Given the many different content areas that are inherent across materials science, teachers with broad interests in scientific disciplines are encouraged and eligible to apply.  Matching the scientific interests of applicants to the available faculty adviser expertise each year is a fundamental strength of the program, and therefore core part of the selection process. 


The cohort of teachers who enlist in this six-week program each summer actively share the expertise that they bring to the program, engage in a variety of activites that link to potential future resources at Penn State, learn fundamental research skills that they will utilize and can consider translating to their classrooms, and receive hands-on nanoscience and technology experience through research.  Past projects have had applications to bio-engineering, chemistry, electronics, materials science, optics, optoelectronics, physics, life sciences, computation, etc. A Summer Research Symposium provides all RET fellows the scholarly opportunity to present their summer work to the summer research community via an oral presentation and poster. RET fellows also develop a lesson plan and/or modular curriculum based on their research topic.

Annual Teacher Workshop

A free one-day Materials Science Teacher Workshop with a varying annual theme is offered each spring for teachers who want to:

  • Learn more about nanotechnology modern materials
  • Understand the interdisciplinary nature in which current research is being conducted
  • See the facilities, tools, and instruments used to conduct research, and meet the faculty and staff that use them
  • Participate in hands-on, interactive, learning activities and incorporate them into the classroom.

Classroom Activities & Demonstrations

Over the years, MRSEC researchers have developed has an assortment of activity ideas, conceptual interactive models, and materials science demonstrations for informal and formal educational environments.  Many of these are archived on this site under the "For the Public" tab:  "Nano Activities for Kids", "Museum Kits", and "Mission: Materials Science".  Teachers who are interested in requesting a demonstration or activity led by a team of graduate student presenters should contact Kristin Dreyer (kad4@psu.edu) or Sarah Boehm (sjb340@psu.edu).