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Golden, Colo., Aug. 8, 2000 - In an effort to improve the quality of science, mathematics and technology education in Colorado schools, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) opened its doors this summer to Colorado educators and invited them to participate in science and technology projects at NREL.
Funded by DOE, the experience allows teachers to come into NREL labs, work side by side with scientists and participate in research dedicated to providing solutions for a sustainable energy future. As part of the program, every participant receives a weekly stipend.
"Through the programs, teachers are able to gain valuable experience in a research setting that will have applications in the classroom," said NREL Teacher Program Coordinator Robi Robichaud. "This program recognizes that teachers are critical agents of change in working to improve science, mathematics and technology education in our schools and offers teachers a unique opportunity to become current with laboratory research skills and knowledge."
Five licensed teachers and three undergraduate education students participated in this year's program. An NREL scientist or engineer is assigned to each participant as a mentor for the duration of the program. While with NREL, the teachers and undergraduate students work on specific assignments such as small wind turbines, chemical etching and transparent conductors. Eighty percent of each workweek is spent in the laboratory while 20 percent of the week is spent with the teachers working as a group to develop strategies for their classroom.
"My experience with the program is that the teachers go back into the schools and turn their classrooms into real science laboratories. The students learn science in ways that relate to the actual practice of science," said NREL's Director of Science and Technology Education Irene Hays. "This is NREL's way of helping the quality of teaching in Colorado."