This “Innovation in Engineering Teaching Practices” paper will describe the student led co-curricular REACT (Research Education and Activities for Classroom Teachers) program at the University X. REACT was formed in 2017 to bring K-12 math and science teachers from the midwest together for a one-day, interactive learning experience to help incorporate research into their classrooms. Teachers listen to graduate student talks, go on research lab tours and are provided novel lesson plans and materials for two hands-on activities that can be used in their K-12 classrooms. Graduate students from eleven engineering and science departments collaborate to develop these materials and ensure they meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Teachers earn continuing education credits for attending. REACT is an opportunity not only for teachers to learn about the cutting-edge research happening at University X, but also serves as a professional development tool for graduate students, giving them the opportunity to work on science communication skills as well as participate in curricula development. The program has also developed a unique funding model, where university professors and departments sponsor individual teachers, so attendance and all materials are free for educators. Since 2017, REACT has hosted ninety K-12 teachers from seventy different school districts. Similar workshops are being developed at other universities based on REACT’s model. At times, the distance between graduate school and K-12 education can seem very large, but as one REACT participant stated: “REACT has been an effective way to bridge the gap between the research community at University X and the education sphere.”
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