Opportunities for High School Teachers

Our PIRE grant will provide an international research opportunity for a small number of high-school science teachers (all science fields) during the summer of 2013. The program will include four main elements: (1) three Saturday field trips in the spring of 2013, during which teachers will learn about hot springs ecology and practice research techniques; (2) a one-week intensive summer institute during which the teachers will gain the knowledge and skills necessary for participating in field research experiences in China, as well as some basic knowledge about Chinese culture (mid-June 2013); (3) a two-week field research experience in China (late June to early July 2013); and (4) presentation of their experiences to local teachers at the Southern Nevada Math and Science Conference (January 2014).

In all, this should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience in which teachers will be able to learn more about geomicrobiology, authentic research, and Chinese culture.

    1. Saturday field trips During the spring of 2013, the group will schedule three Saturday field trips to local hot springs, where the team will discuss hot spring ecology and biogeochemistry and gain experience with techniques that will be used in the field in China.

    2. Summer institute An intensive, one-week summer institute will be held in Las Vegas in mid-June 2013. The institute will be designed to increase teachers' knowledge of geomicrobiology concepts and to prepare them for a field research experience in China by developing their research skills. The institute will focus on a big, interdisciplinary theme into which content from the state science standards can be interwoven and with which connections across disciplines can be emphasized, such as chemolithotrophy and biogeochemical cycles, including intensive discussions and lab experiments with microorganisms from Tengchong hot springs. During the summer institute, presentations about Chinese culture will be provided by UNLV's Office of International Programs, and teachers will have opportunities to Skype with researchers in China about the research projects in which they will participate.

    3. Two-week research experience in China Immediately following the summer institute, teachers will travel to China with the PIRE team. Teachers will fully participate in a PIRE research meeting, which will likely be hosted by one of our collaborators in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, or Kunming. During that time, teachers will also have an opportunity to visit with Chinese high-school science teachers and participate in tourist activities, which depend on the location of the meeting (e.g. Great Wall, Forbidden City, Yellow Crane Tower, Stone Forest). After the PIRE meeting, teachers will travel with the PIRE team to the field site in Yunnan Province, where they will be fully integrated into an international research team. Research activities in China will expand on the experiences from the summer institute. They will also meet together daily to discuss their experiences and how what they are learning might apply to their own classrooms.

    4. Southern Nevada Math and Science Conference Teachers will be expected to give presentations sharing their experiences at the 2014 Southern Nevada Math and Science Conference.


The PIRE program will cover teachers' travel costs associated with doing research in China (travel to and throughout China, group cultural trips, accommodations and food). Teachers will also receive a stipend for successful completion of their PIRE activities (field trips, summer institute, research experience in China, and presentation at the 2014 Southern Nevada Math and Science Conference).


The online application portal is expected to open in mid-September 2012. Applications will be due October 1, 2012; and decisions will be made within 2-3 weeks of the close of the application portal. The application will consist of the following: (1) personal statement indicating interest in the project (limit 2 pages), (2) resume or vitae, (3) example lesson plan, and (4) two letters of recommendation. Selected teachers will interview with the leadership team before final acceptance.

For more information, contact MaryKay Orgill (UNLV Department of Chemistry) at marykay.orgill@unlv.edu.

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