The Berkeley Engineering Research Experiences for Teachers (BERET) program provides teachers and teachers-to-be with paid summer research fellowships and guides them to develop and teach lessons that connect engineering research to K-12 science and mathematics curricula in the classroom. The program is jointly operated by Synberc and the Cal Teach science and mathematics teacher education program.
BERET places in-service and pre-service teacher pairs within faculty labs at UC Berkeley under the supervision of a common research mentor. In-service teachers have at least three years of classroom experience teaching predominately underrepresented students in nearby public middle and high schools. Pre-service teachers are UC Berkeley juniors majoring in science or engineering and enrolled in one or more of the series of courses offered by the Cal Teach program; to be in Cal Teach, a student must have a commitment to pursue a career in teaching math or science in the K-12 classroom.
Research disciplines include Bioengineering, Chemistry, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Physics.
Left to right: BERET participant Katie Lenahan (Chemistry teacher, Kennedy High School, Richmond, CA) works with high school intern Fathima Mujahed at the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville.
Features of BERET
- One in-service and one pre-service teacher are paired in each host lab under the same research mentor, but each teacher conducts his/her own unique research project over the course of the summer.
- In-service teachers work full time for 8-weeks, and pre-service teachers for 9-weeks. Participants attend lab meetings and meet regularly with their research mentors to assess progress.
- Teams use their summer research experiences as the basis for developing new engineering lessons and curricular materials for classroom use. During and after the summer, teams work together to develop a curriculum unit of several days to several weeks and then jointly teach it in the in-service teacher's classroom during the academic year.
- Teachers are paid a stipend and can apply for additional grants to implement their lessons.
- In-service teachers have the option of earning up to 6 semester units of graduate-level extension credit for their participation through the University of San Diego's Division of Continuing Education at a nominal cost.
- Teachers engage in weekly professional development sessions with other teachers, attend a half-day symposium on engineering careers and teaching strategies, and present their research results in a poster session at the end of the summer.
- In-service teachers are encouraged to participate in BERET program for two consecutive years.
In-service teachers apply via our nonprofit partner Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME). Applications are accepted from November through March. We encourage you to apply as early as possible. Information and application can be found here.
Program contact: Shaila Kotadia, Synberc Education & Outreach Manager