The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a dynamic and on-going educational outreach program designed to support middle school science teachers and increase their understanding of the science they teach with applications to the real world and connections to the latest NIST research. In the NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers, science topics are taken from NIST research pertinent to the middle school curriculum, and the research is translated for use in the classroom. During the two-week summer program teachers from around the country are given the opportunity to focus on NIST research as it relates to the middle school classroom by participating in a combination of hands-on activities, lectures, tours, and visits with scientists and engineers in their laboratories. The NIST Summer Institute is designed to increase teacher understanding of the subjects they teach, provide inquiry activities for the classroom, rekindle teachers’ enthusiasm for science, provide increased understanding of how scientific research is performed, create a learning community of teachers and scientists, and provide role models for the teachers. Teachers finish the NIST Summer Institute with a wealth of knowledge about core topics in introductory biology, chemistry, physics, and materials to integrate these topics into their existing curriculum.
The NIST Summer Institute has spawned additional related outreach activities, including “Science Afternoons at NIST,” in which teachers are invited back to NIST during the school year for events in which the focus is on a single topic such as designing buildings to resist earthquakes, infrared energy, and nanomagnetism. Based on continued requests from participants in the NIST Summer Institute, an additional program, the NIST Research Experience for Teachers program, was begun in 2011 with teachers performing research at NIST under the guidance of NIST scientists and engineers, and designing ways to take their research experience back into the classroom to share with their students. This proceeding will give examples of topics covered and activities developed in past Summer Institutes, as well as ways similar Institutes are being implemented at other locations. While not a teaching institution but a research institute focused on meeting the measurement science needs of the nation, NIST has a wealth of resources for the education community. The NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers is one way of sharing these resources and building partnerships between middle school science teachers and their students and NIST scientists and engineers.