Conclusion - What I learned & how I benefited from RET 2011 @ Drexel/UPenn

    I started the program off both excited and apprehensive that I may be a bit antiquated having been out of lab myself for so long.  The learning curve seemed steep initially, but it leveled off as I accepted the responsibilities placed before me.  The introductory workshops during the first half of the program were outstanding- it would seem appropriate that at some point, I will be using them in the classroom to stimulate more interest in science and the future of nanotechnology than I had previously thought was practical or possible!  It was an amazing experience to work at the forefront of some of the research in the field.  Two weekly meetings with Dr. Bau were intimidating, enlightening, and revealing.  As a person to be integrated into his research for a short period of time, Dr. Bau greeted me weekly with genuine interest in my progress, all the time listening to my apparent hangups, digging into his infinite wisdom, and sharing his experience to help me remedy another failed attempt.  The other members of his research group included post-Docs and Ph. D candidates who were equally supportive and invigorating when things seemed stalled.  Two members of the REU program shared their background with me to encourage me.  I somehow think that I held up my mentors' Jinzhou's work, but at every turn, he had nothing but kind words of support and understanding as he faced many of the same trials I did before.  One of the side benefits of the RET program was the ability to observe and critique iREU students who would give science presentations to visiting middle schoolers in their final week.  It was rewarding to have them ask us for our opinions and expertise in teaching.  Perhaps the most revealing and most intimidating moment of the program was to actually observe a Ph. D. candidate defend his thesis.  I felt very privileged to be invited to this culmination of hard work, determination, infinite patience, and supreme compusure.  Even block scheduling has nothing on this kind of pressure cooker atmosphere!  I really feel that NSF is committed to having teachers better their understanding of both science and pedagogy, and the RET program is an ideal place to hone both of those skills.  Would I recommend this program? ABSOLUTELY YES- it's something I would strongly recommend to EVERY teacher who has forgotten what it's like to be a student, but most importantly, for ANY science teacher who is passionate about his/her subject- RET offers something for everyone!  If anyone was on the fence about this experience, I hope that reading my experiences will convince you to find the courage, time, and energy to devote yourself to a program that can be just as rewarding as your teaching practice.  Good luck with all your future endeavors!
Subpages (1): The Finale