Administered through the Center of Education Equity in Mathematics, Science and Technology (CEEMaST) and with funding augmentation from several sources (San Gabriel Valley Science Project, California Department of Education; Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant, U.S. Department of Education), Invitational Institutes engage pre- and in-service teachers and their students in laboratory-based research experiences on the Cal Poly campus. Shared activities centered on contemporary research topics provide participants with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of science content and process, while also experiencing the excitement and challenges of doing science. Serving as role models and coaches, University scientists and science educators work with teachers to develop inquiry-based activities that can be integrated into their high school curricula and through exposure to the applied sciences provide encouragement to students to pursue careers in research and/or teaching.
With assistance from local school district representatives, invitations to participate in these intensive weeklong workshops are forwarded by lead faculty members to area high school teachers in March of each year. As part of their application, each teacher is asked to invite two students to accompany them to workshops. Once on campus, one half of each day is spent in shared experiences in which scientists, teachers, and students work together on research-based problems, while the other half-day is spent pursuing additional research activities or incorporating what has been learned into viable lesson plans. In some cases, students reside on campus for the duration of the week participating in leadership activities during evening hours. University faculty members provide follow up sessions to participants in the academic year following each Institute.
Materials, supplies, meals, and in some cases, housing are provided at no cost to participants. Teachers involved in the program are compensated for their time and may request continuing education credit for their participation. Topics vary among summers and individuals interested in participating in future events are encouraged to contact Dr. Nicole Wickler, Director of CEEMaST and Program Coordinator for HHMI Precollege/Outreach efforts.