2008 STAR alumni female wearing goggles working with test tubes 2010 STAR Alumni female sitting in an uninhabited aerial vehicle 2010 STAR Alumni female examines phytoplankton and zooplankto using microscope 2010 STAR Alumni female showcasing her research poster 2010 STAR Alumni working with a fiber optic strainsensing system Group photo of 2010 STAR Alumni at the Romberg Tiburon Center 2009 STAR Alumni men working in robotics lab

Our Mission

STAR aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practices. STAR also supports the continued development of our Teacher-Researcher Fellows with ongoing professional development and networking opportunities.

About STAR (STEM Teacher and Researcher Program)

STAR is a nine-week paid summer research experience program for aspiring K-12 STEM teachers from any California State University (CSU) Campus or Noyce Scholars from across the country. Undergraduates on a teaching path, Undergraduates in a STEM field seriously considering a career in teaching, masters students, teaching interns, or credential candidates are encouraged to apply.

This is the deal. You spend nine summer weeks working about 35 hours per week with a mentor and research team on cutting edge projects and about 5 with hours per week with experienced K12 educators. You work hard, challenge yourself and learn new skills while advancing real science in a field that interests you. You meet fabulous people and immerse yourself in the culture of science. Each week you participate in an education workshop and activities focused on transferring your lab or field experience to the classroom. Finally, you share your knowledge at conferences. Our funding partners pay you a weekly stipend for your work, the labs get you to help answer pressing questions, and -most importantly- your students get a teacher that knows how science works in the real world. Everybody wins!

The Research Part

Our research mentors are Principal Investigators (PIs) running various research programs at partner lab facilities. Fellows conduct their own cutting edge research project addressing a question the research group is facing. Because of the pace of modern research it is rarely possible to know what specific project Fellows may work on in advance. STAR Fellows have to be excited about research in general, open to new experiences, eager to gain new skills, and able to overcome challenges working independently and with teams. Visit our Lab Site Partner pages to learn more about our labs. Fellows work 35 hours on their projects and 4-5 hours in education workshops every week for a total of about 40 hrs/wk. Fellows receive a $500 stipend weekly plus area-specific support for relocation assistance. Projects span a huge range of disciplines and it's a pretty intense summer! Potential applicants should review projects done by other STAR Fellows at the Cal Poly Digital Commons.

Each Fellow creates a research presentation (a poster or short-oral presentation) for the STAR Research Conference.

The Education Workshops

Fellows attend half-day workshops every week which are co-facilitated by veteran teachers and education specialists with extensive classroom experience who can also help advise Fellows for classroom success. Workshops have two major objectives:

  1. Help you develop a deep understanding of the nature of research, its practices, and culture,
  2. Help develop inquiry-based teaching strategies that align well with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Each Fellow creates a lesson plan for an inquiry-based learning activity inspired by their specific research project.

STAR Program Goals

  1. Attract undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and liberal studies majors to STEM teaching careers by providing them with professional identities as researchers as well as educators.
  2. Allow future STEM teachers to gain first-hand experience within applied research settings.
  3. Cultivate increased interest and prestige in the teaching profession to address the severe shortage of STEM teachers.
  4. Anchor pre-service teachers in a community of scientific practice so that they better understand what it means to be a scientist and a STEM teacher.
  5. Foster inquiry-based teaching and learning strategies .
  6. Increase interest and learning in STEM fields among K-12 students.
  7. Reduce STEM teacher attrition.
  8. Expand outreach opportunities between research facilities and K-12 schools which may include experiments, field trips, and guest scientist visits.

Alumni Voices

What does STAR do for your students and for your teaching career? Listen to just some of the experiences of STAR Alumni who are now STEM teachers. This video was taken at the STAR Closing Conference at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, August 2014.