Since 1991 the RE-SEED program at Northeastern University has trained over 700 retired scientists and engineers in fourteen states to assist K-12 science teachers in the classroom. Today there are over sixty volunteers assisting science teachers in the greater Boston area. After taking part in a comprehensive training program, participants are asked to assist in science classrooms one day a week for one school year (there is no obligation to continue and volunteers may select their assignment). Most volunteers serve over three years (the retention rate is seventy percent), and are very satisfied with the experience (see survey results for details).
The RE-SEED Program is part of the Center for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education at Northeastern University. Other programs of the STEM Center focus on science teacher training and student programs in science learning.
The RE-SEED program at Northeastern University seeks to improve student outcomes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by placing trained retired volunteer scientists, engineers and other STEM professionals in K-12 science classrooms. Since 1991 the program has trained over 700 retired scientists and engineers in fourteen states to assist science teachers in the classroom, delivering over 600,000 hours of classroom assistance at a cost of less than $5 per hour. Surveys have established the high acceptance of the program and belief in its effectiveness among volunteers, teachers and students.
After completing a comprehensive free training program, participants volunteer to serve in a classroom once a week for one school year. Most volunteers serve over three years (the retention rate is seventy percent). RE-SEED volunteers work closely with the host science teachers to help them enrich and implement their school curriculum.
- We give priority to underserved and underperforming schools.
- We focus on the middle school years (6-8) which are critical for student preparation in pursuing STEM-related fields.
- We serve all schools, public and private, religious and secular, without discrimination.
- We train our volunteers in research based STEM pedagogy before they serve in the classroom.
- We promote strong collaboration with teachers to maximize student STEM learning
The shortage of science teachers with science degrees has reached alarming levels. Awareness has been raised by increasingly frequent reporting in both the public media and scholarly journals.[i] While various programs and approaches are addressing this issue they all take time to implement and in the meantime the current need to teach STEM and promote STEM careers must be addressed. One way to address the need immediately is to recruit retired scientists and engineers and train them to help in the classroom.
In addition to the short term need to assist science teachers in the classroom there is a long term need to improve the image and pursuit of STEM careers, particularly in the inner city schools where the students have little community contact with STEM professionals. Increasing STEM careers is a national priority and the RE-SEED program goes a long way in promoting this need.
[i] Out-of-Field Teaching Persists In Key Academic Courses and High-Poverty Schools, The Education Trust, November, 2008.
The best data available to assess teacher assignments come from a national survey the U.S. Department of Education conducts every few years, the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). One reason this source is so good is that the data come from teachers themselves—rather than from officials who, frankly, may want their schools to look a little better than they are. The Education Trust, in partnership with University of Pennsylvania Professor Richard M. Ingersoll, analyzed SASS data from 2003-04 (the most recent survey) to examine out-of-field teaching in core academic classes at the secondary school level (grades 7-12).
- Activity/inquiry-based program that stresses critical thinking
- Focuses on the physical sciences
- Integrates Mathematics and Science
- Combines content with up-to-date pedagogy
- Aligned with the Massachusetts Mathematics, Science & Technology Frameworks, the National Science Standards, and the MCAS test
- Increase students’ interest in science
- Expand teachers understanding of the physical sciences
- Make science relevant to students by bringing real-life science into the classroom
- Increase students’ and teachers’ understanding of scientific principles and concepts
- Assist students with science projects and science fairs
- Make and bring science equipment to school
- Mentor students and act as role models
Please contact Daniel Sullivan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 617-373-3382 if you are interested in learning more about the RE-SEED program.
*You don’t actually need to be fully retired to participate in this program. Most all of the citizens that do RE-SEED are of retirement age, but still own and operate businesses, do other volunteer work, consult for their industry, or all of the above!