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University of Houston receives NSF grant for high school teachers program

Houston Public school science teachers will explore the nanotechnology field at the University of Houston under a grant designed to build interest in science and engineering.

The National Science Foundation recently awarded UH's Cullen College of Engineering a $429,000 grant to fund "Innovations in Nanotechnology," a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program.

Starting next summer, selected middle and high school science teachers from the Houston area will spend their summer months working with UH engineering professors on nanotechnology research projects.

"Such RET programs are designed to address the looming shortfall of science and engineering talent in the United States," said Debra Rodrigues, an assistant professor of civil engineering and the grant's co-principal investigator.

"We want to spread the word about engineering and attract students to the field," Rodrigues said. "We bring teachers here to show them what we do and experience what engineering is like so they can pass that information and that enthusiasm on to their students."

Twelve teachers will be involved in the program during each of the next three summers. The teachers will be involved in ongoing nanotechnology-related research projects being conducted by UH faculty members.

For example, the teacher assigned to work with Rodrigues will assist in her efforts to develop efficient nanotechnology-based water purification systems. Other projects include work on a detection tool for the Norwalk "Cruise Ship" virus and the development of technologies for mass-producing nanostructures.

At the end of each summer, teachers will produce a poster outlining their individual research efforts. They also will work with UH faculty members to develop engineering education modules they can use in their own classrooms.

About 15 engineering faculty members have agreed to work with teachers in the RET program.

"All of these faculty member have active research programs, graduate students they mentor and advise, committees they serve on and classes they teach. It says a lot about their dedication to engineering education and the overall health of the profession that they're eager to take on these extra duties," said Fritz Claydon, associate dean for education and research and the grant's principal investigator.


Contact: Laura Tolley
University of Houston

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