Professional Development opportunities for teachers

by Stephanie Chasteen on March 27, 2009

As summer approaches, everyone’s vying for teachers’ time.  A bunch of deadlines have already passed, but there’s still time to sign up for several great programs.

Teacher Institute at the Exploratorium

Application deadline April 1 — soon! I can’t even describe how much this institute will change your teaching — I worked with the Teacher Institute for 2 summers, and it transformed me. Teachers have nothing but good things to say about it. Amazing program! Here’s more info:

Our institutes focus on physics, middle-high school general science, life science and mathematics and support the content and pedagogy described in the National and California State Standards. After completing this 4-week institute, you become an alumnus of the Teacher Institute and are eligible to attend other workshops. The library also becomes available for project research.

Participants are required to study at the Exploratorium for five-and-one-half hours each day, Monday through Friday, for four weeks. Each participant is awarded a stipend of $1000 after completion. In the past years, three units of credit from San Francisco State University or six units of graduate credit from University of the Pacific were awarded through the program. Registration and paying for university credit takes place during the Institute. We anticipate the same types of credit to be offered during Summer 2009.

The dates for Summer 2009 are from June 22nd to July 17th. This year’s applications are due back to us by April 1st and we let teachers know of their acceptance status by early May.

ACS-Hach High School Chemistry Grant

The ACS-Hach High School Chemistry Grant is awarded to teachers and institutions aiming to enhance the teaching and learning of high school chemistry. Applicants can receive up to $1,500 to support ideas that transform classroom learning and encourage student development. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2009. Notification letters will be emailed May 1. Google them for more info, or email b_hach for the application.

Research Experiences for Teachers

PTEC, a project led by AAPT, the American Physical Society, and the American Institute of Physics, maintains a list of Research Experiences for Teachers, or RETs. These programs give in-service teachers an opportunity to spend part of their summer participating in cutting-edge physics research.

Modeling Workshops for Teachers

Modeling Workshops in high school physics, chemistry, and/or physical science will be held in summer 2009 in Arizona, California, Miami FL, Kansas, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Philadelphia PA, Pittsburgh PA, Tennessee, Dallas TX, and Wisconsin. Pending funding, also in Columbus
GA, Chicago, New Orleans, and Kansas City MO. Visit for details. Click on “Modeling Workshops Nationwide in Summer 2009”.

Modeling Workshops are peer-led. Modeling Instruction is the only high school science program recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education as EXEMPLARY. Stipends and/or free tuition are available for in-state teachers at most sites.

Teachers greatly value Modeling Instruction. Modelers from all over the
nation wrote:

  • In the one year that I have been modeling, I have seen wonderful results.
  • I love the modeling physics program and want to cheer for the difference
  • I saw in the understanding of my students when I implemented the Mechanics materials for the first time last year!
  • Modeling has changed the fundamental way I teach. I believe eventually, maybe even in our lifetimes, all science will be taught this way.
  • We have had 3 physics teachers and 5 chemistry teachers enhance their professional development at your ASU modeling workshops. Modeling has made a world of difference in our science courses.

Weightless Flights of Discovery

From Northrop Grumman website

From Northrop Grumman website

The image above is from the  Northrop Grumman Foundation’s Weightless Flights of Discovery program.

In each workshop, teachers learn about the physics of weightlessness and what to expect on the zero gravity flight. They also design microgravity experiments that applied science, technology, engineering or mathematics principles to human activities in a weightless environment. During the weightless flight one or two weeks later, they conduct their experiments under the watchful eye of a video camera. Teachers then use their videotaped flight experience and the results of the experiments to help shape math, science, technology or engineering curricula at their home schools.

Their flight schedule for 2009 is below:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico – Aug 22
  • Detroit, Michigan – Aug 1/Sept 24
  • Norwalk, CT – Aug 29
  • Washington, DC – Aug 15/Oct 2

2009 National Physics Teachers Workshop

“Nuclear Technology Addressing Worldwide Energy Demands”
This workshop is designed to provide teachers with the opportunity to increase their knowledge level on nuclear energy, meet and learn from the nuclear researchers, tour facilities, and interact with peers from across the country. As the United States’ lead laboratory for nuclear reactor research and development, the Idaho National Laboratory provides the ideal location for hosting this select nuclear topic workshop.
The following costs will be prepaid and/or reimbursed to selected attendees:
• Lodging and most meals (based on current U.S. General Services Administration schedules and guidelines)
• Workshop fees and materials
• Travel – Based on GSA lowest cost of travel rates.
Application deadline is April 4. Only 30 registrations will be accepted for the July 2009 workshop. Please view web address for details.

2009 Perimeter Institute Workshop

Free summer physics camps for teachers at Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Please make sure that applications for the “Einstein Plus Teachers’ Workshop” reach us by Tuesday, March 31, 2009. Program dates for Einstein Plus are August 2 to August 8. Online applications are available.
If you have any questions, please email jtaylor at or phone 519-569-7600 ext. 5080

Operation Biotechnology for Physics Teachers

The Biotechnology Institute, through its FIPSE Operation Biotechnology grant, still has openings for Physics teachers to attend the Conference on Biotechnology Education in May in Atlanta.  The attached information describes the conference, its value to the teachers of $10,000 in items such as lodging, meals, up to $350 reimbursement on air travel, 2 days of wet labs, 1 day of best practice presentations, 1 day of tours and 1 day at the BIO conference.  About all that is not paid is a substitute; it is a good deal.

The deadline is April 1 so first come, first served.  The application is online.


Rhett March 28, 2009 at 1:31 am

I totally want to do the weightless flight- even though I would likely barf.

sciencegeekgirl March 28, 2009 at 2:23 am

even though I would likely barf.

Never pass up an opportunity to do computational analysis of projectile motion, Rhett.

Shawn April 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm

We at always appreciate the posting of any energy-related workshops for educators. Thanks.
It’s difficult to put my feelings in words, but Idaho National Lab’s announcement reminded me: It’s too bad these workshops are partly about justifying a technology (“We need nuclear energy to get us out of climate mess”) instead of letting teachers, even students, decide for themselves. The science courses should help inform students, or better help them to learn to stay informed, but should not begin to answer sticky social questions without the help of humanities courses etc.
A better way of getting teachers to attend an INL workshop might be to say “Nuclear science technology is interesting, rich in inquiry, and an important topic to study considering the ramifications of our energy choices.”
But why am I posting this here? I should be talking to the folks at INL directly…Just thinking on the keyboard (the action formerly known as thinking out loud).

Mr. B September 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm

I applied and was accepted to the Northrop Grumman Weightless Flights of Discovery. The flight is in two weeks and it is definitely a once in a lifetime and certainly exciting!!!

sciencegeekgirl September 19, 2009 at 12:23 am

Mr. B., hopefully you’ll let us know how it goes! I’d welcome a guest post on your experiences.

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