October 4, 2021

When it comes to STEM programs, so often the stories we hear are about the incredible things our kids are doing. Whether it’s the fun of after school enrichment programs, the intensity and camaraderie of competitions or the real-life experience of an apprenticeship, our students never cease to amaze and inspire.

But the truth is not a single one of these experiences would be possible without a dedicated team of adults. They pay it forward and pass it on, their love for STEM. 

We recently spoke to a few of these incredible educators involved in our Research Experiences for STEM Educators and Teachers (RESET) program. RESET is a very special program designed with classroom teachers in mind that provides educators with research experience at participating Army Laboratories under the guidance of a mentor. Teachers in RESET reinforce their content knowledge through the support of Army and Department of Defense scientists and engineers, online and on-site, which results in enhanced classroom teaching.

But don’t take it from us! In the words of both a teacher participant and a Army mentor, here’s what two amazing RESET participants had to say about their experiences:

Martha Hebert, teacher Academy of Innovation (Vicksburg, MS)

In 2018, I was looking for a part-time summer job.  I spoke to Rick Tillotson with the Engineering Research Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Mississippi to determine if ERDC hired summer workers.  He immediately informed me of the RESET program, I applied, and was accepted.  Three years later and I’m still a participant.

For those of us who live near the Gulf Coast, harmful algal blooms are a real-world issue since our beaches have been shut down because of the HABs.  To be able to work hands-on on a real-world challenge was a great opportunity.  Even though my background is in math and I was completely out of my comfort zone while working in science laboratories, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the scientists and chemists especially when they felt my findings were beneficial to their work. If you want to stretch yourself, like we ask students to do, RESET is for you.  If you want to work hands-on in research labs and get a feel for how these labs contribute to the needs of the United States, RESET is for you.  Finally if you enjoy listening and learning from mentors in research professions and from fellow teachers located in other parts of our country, RESET is definitely for you. 

Sarah Grace Zetterholm, Research Chemist at the Environmental Laboratory at ERDC-WES

I have been involved in the RESET program since the summer of 2018 during which I co-mentored one teacher. RESET is a great program not only for community outreach, but also for project development. From a community standpoint, it allows researchers like me to give teachers a useful application for the concepts they teach students. They can give an answer to any student who asks when this will be used in “real life.” I have benefited from the teachers’ excellent questions and feedback about the experimental designs for their project. Teachers’ feedback allows me to discover areas of investigation that I had not previously considered or had time to study. If a teacher has an interest in exploring new areas, I also get to learn about these areas from their results. RESET also has given me the opportunity to practice communicating technical ideas to professionals who are not primarily researchers.

A highlight from this year’s RESET program was watching my teacher-participant present the results of her project to our research team. She analyzed and interpreted all the data from the summer, and she offered suggestions for future investigation. It was satisfying seeing her offer up important findings that were relevant to everyone in our team.

Interested in participating in RESET? Learn more here. Follow the 2021-2022 RESET cohort’s journey on Facebook.

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