Science - Technology - Engineering - Math
About STAR (STEM Teacher and Researcher Program)
The STEM Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program is a nine-week paid summer research fellowship program for aspiring K-12 STEM teachers. If you are an undergraduate, masters, credential or baccalaureate student who wants to be a K-12 STEM teacher, then this is a program for you! This is the deal. You spend nine weeks of the summer working full-time with a research team on cutting edge projects challenging yourself and learning new skills while advancing human knowledge. You meet fabulous people and immerse yourself in the culture of science. Each week you participate in an education workshop focused on transferring your experience to the classroom. Finally, you share your knowledge at two conferences.
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 practice. STAR also supports the continued development of our Teacher-Researcher Fellows with ongoing professional development and networking opportunities.
STAR is a nine-week summer program with three major components: summer research fellowships, 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.
Full-time Summer Research Fellowship
Our research mentors are Principal Investigators (PIs) running various research programs at partner lab facilities. Fellows conduct their own cutting research project designed to address a question the research group is facing under the guidance of these world-class mentors, postdocs, and lab staff. Because of the pace of modern research it is rarely possible to know what 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 page to learn more about participating labs. Fellows work 40 hours per week on their projects and education workshops so they receive a weekly stipend of $500. Fellow 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.
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 on the credentialling process. Workshops have two major objectives:
- help you develop a deep understanding of the nature of research, its practices, and culture
- help you develop inquiry-based teaching strategies that align well with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Workshops culminate in Fellows creating a lesson plan for an inquiry-based learning activity inspired by their specific research project.
The Opening and Closing Conferences serve as bookends for the summer experience. The opening conference is at the end of the first week you are on site. It provides some further orientation to the STAR program and an introduction to the teacher-researcher identity through presentations and hands-on workshops. The Closing Conference is a research showcase and networking opportunity where STAR Fellows present their research to one another and the broader STEM education community
STAR Program Goals
- 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
- Allow future STEM teachers to gain first-hand experience within applied research settings
- Cultivate increased interest and prestige in the teaching profession to address the severe shortage of STEM teachers
- 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
- Foster inquiry-based teaching and learning strategies
- Increase interest and learning in STEM fields among K-12 students
- Reduce STEM teacher attrition
- Expand outreach opportunities between research facilities and K-12 schools which may include experiments, field trips, and guest scientist visits