This fall, Beth Foster, a teacher at Annapolis Middle School in Annapolis, Md., will return to her classroom with a deeper understanding of the practical implications of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts after spending part of her summer break engaged in an immersive research program at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Wash.
Foster and a team of scientists and fellow teachers received an inside look at the work done at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory as part of an elite fellowship program arranged by the Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the College Board.
Foster was one of just 20 teachers from across the country selected to participate in the research project at the PNNL through the prestigious Siemens Teachers as Researchers (STARs) fellowship program. STARs is part of the Siemens STEM Academy, a premier online professional development community for STEM educators empowering and celebrating excellence in STEM education.
The Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education and their partners developed the STARs fellowship to invigorate teachers by immersing them in authentic research alongside some of the country’s brightest scientific minds. The hope is that these teachers will bring the experience back into their classrooms and inspire their students to pursue STEM education and careers.
“We hope that Beth’s experience at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the experiences of her cohorts, will help inspire their students to become our country’s next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation. “We see the STARs program as a key part of the Siemens Foundation’s broad effort to improve our country’s competency in STEM education and are honored that Beth was able to participate.”
At PNNL, Foster along with her colleagues worked in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Lab’s microscopy department, where they conducted sample prep work and conducted some imaging in an effort to learn about the environmental work conducted at EMSL.
“I am honored to have been selected for this award,” Foster said. “I had a wonderful time working with research scientists in a different capacity this summer and collaborating with other teachers from across the country.”
In addition to their research, Foster and the other STARs fellows were involved in a number of facility tours and seminars aimed at helping them effectively incorporate research into their classrooms. Each teacher also received a grant to purchase equipment and/or supplies for their classroom.
Following the programs, the Fellows will serve as ambassadors in their schools and communities as they continue working together on various STEM projects and empowering their peers with the tools and knowledge gained at the STARs program. The hope is that these teachers will then bring the experience back into their classrooms and inspire students to pursue opportunities in STEM related fields.