Resources to Improve STEM Teacher Training and Professional Development Quality

Revitalize STEM teacher preservice education, induction, and professional development programs that attract and prepare a diverse group of P–16 STEM teachers and promote their effectiveness, retention, lifelong learning, and continued involvement in research.


1. News Stories

Short news stories about STEM teacher training and professional development activities on the Illinois campus.

2. Funded Projects Directory

Directory of current externally funded P-16 teacher training and professional development projects on the Illinois campus.

3. Funding Opportunities

External funding opportunities for teacher training and professional development programs and research.

4. Miscellaneous STEM Websites/Resources

  • New! The 7 Best Places to Learn to Code for Free (2019). Article on Brainly website, a social learning platform connecting students and educators around the world. The article focuses on several of the top free, intuitive coding resources set to solve the lack of CS education in schools today.

  • 5. STEM Teacher Development and Resources

    Opportunities and resources for preservice and inservice P-16 STEM teachers. Opportunities, including new dates for events that occur in consecutive years, are posted as program information becomes available. Until new dates are available, we retain the date of the previous year's event, since they often happen around the same time every year.

    P–16 STEM Teacher Development Events
    • Knowles Science Teaching Foundation: KSTF Teaching Fellowships: Awards fellowships in the areas of biological sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences. The fellowship is designed to meet the needs of beginning teachers from the onset of the credentialing process through the early years of their careers. Fellows receive: stipends, funding for professional development, grants for teaching materials, leadership and mentoring oportunities. Application deadline for 2018 Teaching Fellowship is TBA.
    • P–16 STEM Instructional and PD Resources
      • After Hours Programming: After Hours Programming helps teach the fundamentals of web development and not just programming. We help teach beginners and anyone interested in how to create amazing websites through programming and design tutorials. We have provided a great list of resources, support and tutorials to help anyone learn programming and the essential to creating an amazing website. 
      • Academic Challenge: Science/engineering test competitions for high school students. Teachers at participating schools (400+ schools in Illinois) select their best students for their teams and coach them using old tests for practice. There are three levels of competition for Academic Challenge: regionals (in February), sectionals (in March), and state finals (in April) on the UIUC campus. 
      • American Chemical Society Classroom Resources: For elementary/middle school, high school, undergrad, two-year college, and graduate education.
        1. Inquiry in Action: A resource for guided, inquiry-based activities that grade 3-6 teachers and students can use to supplement physical science curriculum.
        2. A resource of guided, inquiry-based lesson plans for grades 6-8 that covers basic chemistry concepts along with the process of scientific investigation.
      • ACS Chemistry in the Community Webinars: Increase your understanding of the high school text, Chemistry in the Community (ChemCom), while gaining instructional tips and techniques for student lab investigations and classroom activities.
      • BeeSpace: Instructional resources for high school biology, ecology, and environmental science classes
      • Bugscope: Free interactive access to a scanning electron microscope for K-16 classrooms worldwide
      • Center for the Physics of Living Cells: Curriculum Resources: In collaboration with local teachers, we have developed a series of curriculum resources for use in secondary science instruction. Resources are designed for physics, chemistry, and biology teachers.
      • Chickscope: Students use classroom computers to access data generated from scientific instruments
      • Chic Tech: Teams of undergraduate women visit high schools to demystify the field of computer science and inform female students about the joy of studying it as a college major. One component, the Technical Ambassadors Competition, challenges groups of up to 5 high school girls to create a technical service project for a community non-profit organization. Winning projects receive cash prizes, and finalists are invited to a weekend retreat at Illinois.Contacts:
      • DATA: Demonstrations and Animations for Teaching Astronomy: Astronomy teaching resources.
      • Earth's Atmosphere: Educational resource for elementary school units on earth's atmosphere, weather, and climate.
      • ELATE at Drexel: Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering (ELATE) is a national leadership development program designed to advance senior women faculty in academic engineering, computer science, and related fields into effective institutional leadership roles within their schools and universities.
      • Engineering Advocates: Illinois Engineering students visit K–12 schools to share their knowledge and love of engineering with @ 6000 youth per year. They conduct hands-on workshops at elementary and middle schools and make a PowerPoint presentation about engineering careers and admission to Illinois at high schools; they also conduct workshops for groups such as Girl Scouts and participate in conferences and career fairs for middle and high school students. Contact Engineering Advocates.
      • EtoysIllinois: K–5 teaching with EToys software and teaching computer languages
      • FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology: An international competition allowing students to explore science and technology through robotics. Illinois hosts a regional Lego Robotics competition every December, with @ 220 children participating annually. College of Engineering supports Robotics Program (ages 9–14), and Vex Robotics (high school). Teachers in AP Physics classes employ Vex robotics to provide a hands-on approach to physics principles.
      • Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL): This group of mathematicians seeks to share their love of geometry with people of all ages. Student members of the lab perform outreach in schools, after-school clubs, and provide workshops and resources for local high school and middle school teachers. Contact IGL. I-STEM article: Illinois Geometry Lab: Changing the Shape of Math Research...and Outreach.
      • iRISE (Illinois Researchers in Partnership with K-12 Science Educators): The Illinois Researchers in Partnership with K-12 Science Educators (iRISE) Project aims to bring hands-on science and engineering lessons to underrepresented middle school students and their teachers in Illinois. iRISE is centered around a graduate course which trains science and engineering PhD students in educational outreach. As a part of the course, graduate students develop and teach science and engineering lessons to local middle school students. iRISE also teaches an annual summer workshop for Illinois middle school teachers.
      • iRobotics: This student organization seeks to share their love of robotics with youngsters. Outreach events they perform include judging competitions; doing demonstrations in local schools; and helping start, mentor, or prepare teams for competition. Contact iRobotics. I-STEM article on iRobotics.
      • Illinois State Board of Education Educator Certification Information: The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) provides endorsements for teacher certifications. Endorsements are available in several subject areas, including Biological Science, Computer Applications, Computer Science, General Science, Mathematics, Physical Science, Chemistry, Earth & Space Science, and Environmental Science. Specific requirements for endoresements are listed here.
      • NanoCEMMS Online Labs: Nanotechnology lab activities that can be used in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms; labs include materials lists, step-by-step procedures, and downloadable materials .
      • Physics Van: Performs physics demonstrations in Champaign-Urbana, IL area elementary schools
      • Physics Lecture Demonstration Database: Designed to help physics instructors find demonstrations for their lectures
      • Prairie Research Institute Teacher Resources. These teacher resources under Teachers/Youth Groups Resources were developed for the Naturally Illinois Expo.
      • REACT (Reaching and Educating Tomorrow's Chemists Today). Each semester, the program visits every local school within a 30 mile radius of campus to work with third grade youngsters in hands-on activities in chemistry. The program also performs demonstration shows, visits local after-school facilities, and hosts on-campus and off-campus sessions for families to do hands-on science together for an evening each month. Email REACT. I-STEM article: REACT: Reaching and Educating Tomorrow's Chemists Today.
      • TCIP (Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid): Interactive lessons help teachers and students learn about the system that delivers electricity and challenges for the future
      • TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools): Program started by Microsoft Company strives to get a computer science course in every high school in the U.S. Schools wishing to apply to be a partner with TEALS for the 2016-17 school year must apply by February 28, 2019.
      • The Power of the Wind: Curriculum includes several small projects that teach about the wind and its uses while introducing engineering design and engaging learners in doing, testing, reflecting, and revising.
      • University of Illinois Extension: Teacher resources in horticulture, nutrition and health, and environmental stewardship, and schools online, which contains science resources.
      • WaterCAMPWS: Teaching and learning resources on water purification systems.
      • VetMed Open House: The VetMed Open House shows the public what truly goes on inside an animal hospital, giving visitors a taste of what it takes to be a veterinarian via numerous hands-on activities for all ages. Next Open House: October 4, 2020. I-STEM article on Open House 2013: Vet Med Open House Appeals to Young and Old Alike.
      • Wildlife Encounters: Created and operated by the University of Illinois' College of Veterinary Medicine, this site offers resources for K-12 students and teachers.
      Teacher and Principal Fellowships
      • 2020-2021 School Ambassador Fellowship: It has become common understanding in recent years that for education reforms to succeed, practitioners must be involved in their planning and implementation. The U.S. Department of Education created the School Ambassador Fellowship program as one means of recognizing the critical impact educators have on student outcomes and school success. Teachers, principals and other school staff members understand better than anyone the rewards of public education, as well as the need for some dramatic improvements.

        School staff members provide vital leadership in classrooms and schools, but too often lack opportunities to contribute their knowledge to the development of education policy on a broader scale. The U.S. Department of Education designed the School Ambassador Fellowship program to enable outstanding teachers, principals and other school leaders, like school counselors, to bring their school and classroom expertise to the Department and to expand their knowledge of the national dialogue about education. In turn, School Ambassador Fellows facilitate the learning and input of other educators and community members.

      Mission: The School Ambassador Fellowship is designed to improve education for students by involving educators in the development and implementation of national education policy. The Fellowship seeks to:

      • Create a community of teachers, principals, and other school staff members who share expertise and collaborate with leaders in the Federal government on national education issues.
      • Involve educators who work daily with students and teachers in developing policies that affect classrooms and school building.
      • Highlight practitioners' voices and expand educators' critical leadership at the national, state, and local levels.

      Throughout their Fellowship year, School Ambassador Fellows collaborate as a team and with Alumni Fellows to:

      • Learn about federal education policy and ED
      • Reach out to teachers and schools in the field
      • Reflect with ED staff on the knowledge gained
      • For more information on how the Fellowship works, please see our Program Overview
        Application Deadline: February 13, 2019 at 11:59 P.M. Eastern time