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

About STAR

The STEM Teacher and Researcher Program (STAR) is a nine-week summer research internship for aspiring K-12 science and mathematics teachers. If you’re an Undergraduate, Masters, Credential or Baccalaureate student who wants to be a K-12 science or mathematics teacher, then this is the program for you! Imagine spending your summer in a National Laboratory, NASA Research Center, NOAA Laboratory or private industry research setting, working alongside a research mentor and getting paid $500/week. You’d work full-time on a group or independent research project, and participate in weekly education workshops focused on exploring the nature of science and transferring your experience to the classroom. Want to learn more? Want to learn more? Read about the experiences of a few of STAR's stellar fellows and how their STAR involvement has changed their career in education!


STAR aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic STEM research and helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice.


STAR is a nine-week program with three major components: summer research internships, education workshops, and opening and closing conferences. Our participants, called STAR Fellows, are aspiring teachers from California State University (CSU) and the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program.

Summer research internship. Under the guidance of research mentors, Fellows conduct cutting-edge research at laboratory facilities run by CSU, Department of Defence, Department of Energy, NASA, NOAA, NSF, and the SETI Institute. Fellows receive a weekly stipend of $500 to compensate them for their full-time work on their research project. At the end of the summer, Fellows present their research to the broader STAR community during a poster session at the STAR Closing Conference.

Check out examples of pre-service teachers' STAR research projects on Cal Poly Digital Commons.

Education workshops. To supplement their research, Fellows attend weekly three-hour education workshops which are co-taught by a Master Teacher and a Faculty Mentor with extensive experience in both K-12 STEM education and the credential process. Workshops have two major learning objectives for Fellows: (1) to develop a deep understanding of the nature of research and (2) to become familiar with inquiry-based teaching strategies that align well with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The workshops culminate in Fellows creating a lesson plan for an inquiry learning activity based on their research.

STAR conferences. The Opening and Closing Conferences serve as bookends for the summer experience. The Opening Conference serves as both an orientation to STAR and an introduction to the teacher-researcher identity through inspiring presentations and engaging, hands-on workshops. The Closing Conference, on the other hand, is a research showcase and networking opportunity where STAR Fellows present their research to one another as well as to the broader STEM education community.

Click here to download the program for last year's 2013 STAR Closing Conference.

Click here to download a flyer to advertise the 2014 STAR Program to your friends, students, and colleagues.

Watch a Webcast about the STAR Program

Learn more about the STAR Program in this webcast originally broadcast in January 2012. It includes a presentation explaining what the STAR program is, as well as an informational video and a Q and A session with three STAR Program Alumni. The recording is approximately 46 minutes in length.




STAR applicants must meet all of the following eligibility requirements in order to apply for the program:

  • at least 18 years old by the start of the program;
  • a student or alum of the California State University and/or a current or former member of the NSF Robert Noyce Scholarship Program;
  • a US Citizens or Permanent Resident Alien; and,
  • a pre-service teacher or a STAR alum with two or fewer years of participation in STAR and two or fewer years of teaching experience.

To clarify the last bullet point: first time participants must be pre-service teachers, i.e., future teachers who have not yet worked as a paid, full-time teacher. Alumns of the STAR Program are encouraged to participate in up to three STAR research experiences, provided they have not been teaching for more than two years. Successful applicants will have:

  • a demonstrated interest in teaching math and science in grades K-12;
  • at least junior standing with a strong record of undergarduate coursework in mathematics and science; and,
  • a minimum GPA of 2.7 (3.0 or higher preferred).


STAR is a highly competitive, prestigious program for pre-service science and mathematics teachers and there is a certain level of responsibility that goes along with participating in this program. Expectations for students placed in the program are as follows:

  1. Participate in the entire 9-week summer research internship from Monday, June 16th through SaturdayAugust 16th. Fellows are expected to work 40-hours per week during this period.
  2. Prepare and present a research (either poster or PowerPoint, depending upon lab site) at the lab site activity (TBD by site) and the STAR Closing Conference on Saturday, August 160th. Participants are also expected to submit an electronic copy of their poster to Cal Poly Digital Commons. 
  3. Develop and submit an education deliverable, including a research connected lesson plan. Participants are expected to share their lesson plan (the lesson plan cover page) at the STAR Closing Conference on Saturday, August 16th.
  4. Participate in weekly half-day seminars at their assigned lab site focused on science and math teaching and education as part of a 40-hour per week commitment.
  5. Participate in two STAR conferences focused on topics associated with the program. The Opening Conference held on Friday, June 20th in the Bay Area will involve an orientation to the STAR program, discussion of the identity of a teacher-researcher, and breakout sessions regarding activities and resources related to science teaching. The Closing Conference, held on SaturdayAugust 16th in the Bay Area will involve presentations of fellows research experience and culminating reflections of the 2014 STAR program.
  6. Participate in teacher-researcher community building and cohort activities (in person and online).
  7. Participate in STAR Program evaluation activities, before, during, and after the program. Pre-program surveys will be sent to fellows no later than June 1st and must be completed prior to the first day of the program. 

Selection Criteria

Following the application deadline, all STAR applications will be reviewed by a panel of readers, and determined to meet the minimum eligibility requirements as stated above. Once an applicant has met the minimum qualifications, the application materials are forwarded to the top lab site choice for placement consideration. The placement process is very selective dependent on matching skill sets, experience and qualifications with available placement opportunities. Although it is a good sign for your application to be forwarded to the lab sites, it is not a guarantee for placement.

Once your placement has been confirmed, you will receive two congratulatory email communications, one from the STAR Program and a second from your lab site. The STAR email will contain information about program expectations, housing needs, stipend payment schedules, and your project description. The lab site communication will be more detail oriented with additional information about your specific placement, points of contact at the lab site and other programmatic details. You will have two weeks to formally accept the offer by logging in to the application site.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


General Info:

Download a PDF of the 2014 STAR Orientation Packet by clicking here.

Q: What does acronym STAR mean?
A:STAR stands for STEM Teacher and Researcher. STEM is an acronym that is commonly used today to represent the broad fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and it more accurately represents the variety of backgrounds and majors that STAR serves.

Q: How many people have participated in STAR since its existence?
A: STAR began in 2007 with 16 fellows at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Since then, STAR has provided a total of 290 research opportunities at 18 research sites in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Tennessee, and Washington.

Q: What are the dates of the 2014 STAR Program?
A: All sites will begin on Monday, June 16th, and will end on Saturday, August 16th with a Closing Conference in the San Francisco Bay Area. Travel arrangements for out of state and Southern California participants will be coordinate during the summer by the STAR Program office.

Q: I am thinking about applying for the program, but cannot commit to the full program. What should I do?
A: STAR requires a commitment to the full 9-weeks of the program. Individual time off can be requested in advance and is approved on a case-by-case basis, but typically does not exceed 1-2 days during the entire program.

Q: What does the STAR Program provide in terms of housing and relocation support?
A: STAR provides a $250 stipend for relocation expenses, in addition to reimbursements up to $2000 for housing expenses (excluding deposit) for qualified applicants.

Q: What are the qualifications to receive housing support?
A: STAR participants whose current AND permanent addresses are more than 50 miles from the lab site will qualify for housing and relocation support. STAR may provide suggestions for housing accommodations available in each area, but it is the responsibility of the STAR fellow to make all arrangements and enter into any contracts that may be necessary to secure the housing accommodations. STAR will reimburse actual expenses up to $2000. Any extra expenses will be the responsibility of the STAR fellow.

Q: As a STAR participant in need of housing, what am I responsible for?
A: The participant is responsible for making their own housing arrangements, entering into a contract, paying the deposit and paying the monthly rent. Participants are encouraged to converse with others who are also searching for housing at their particular lab site to share efforts, and perhaps living expenses during the summer. In some cases, the CESaME office can provide suggestions for housing locations that have been utilized in previous years.

Q: What do I need to send to STAR in order to get reimbursed and where do I send it?
A: The STAR Housing Receipt Form (downloand PDF) form should be completed for each month’s rent payment. The form should be scanned and uploaded to the SurveyGizmo site as a PDF. Note that JPEG images taken with a mobile device will not be accepted. Scanning programs such as Genius Scan or CamScanner are available on mobile devices for both Mac and PC platforms. Alternatively, most copy machines have the capability of scanning documents.

Q: How do I request and receive the relocation stipend?
A: This stipend will automatically be issued to individuals who have qualified for housing in conjunction with their first paycheck on Friday, June 20th.

Q: Who do I contact if I have any questions or concerns?
A: Kaylene Wakeman, the STAR Program Coordinator at (805) 756-2403 or kwakeman@calpoly.edu.


The STAR Program has several goals as outlined below:

  1. Attract undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and liberal studies majors to STEM teaching careers by providing them with professional identities as scientists as well as educators
  2. Allow future science and mathematics teachers to gain first-hand experience within applied research settings
  3. Cultivate increased interest and prestige in the science and mathematics teaching profession to address the severe shortage of science and mathematics teachers in California.
  4. Anchor pre-service teachers in a community of scientific practice, they will come to better understand what it means to be a scientist and a teacher of science or mathematics.
  5. Foster inquiry-based science teaching and learning strategies and increase science and mathematics interest and learning among K-12 students
  6. Reduce science and mathematics teacher attrition
  7. Open the door to expanded outreach between national labs, universities and K-12 schools that will also include experiments, field trips, and guest scientists