Research Experience for Teachers

About Nano RET

The RET Site: A Year-Long NanoEngineering Exploration from the Lab to the Classroom is a program designed to bring cutting-edge nanoengineering research in sustainable energy transition, clean water, and improved diagnostics and therapeutics into 5th-12th grade science classrooms. The program works with high-needs school districts in the greater Houston area, supporting science teachers as they conduct research with Rice University's top-tier nanoengineering research faculty and facilities. The program includes a 7-week immersive laboratory internship and support throughout the academic year. Participants observe and actively work in innovative research while developing inquiry-based lesson plans that apply R-STEM and Rice research, using digital media and other strategies to bring the laboratory experience to students.

Participants not only give a poster presentation based on their summer research at the Engineering Research Symposium for Teachers, attend fall lesson planning workshops, and teach their research-based lessons at a spring NanoAcademy workshop for their students.

Participants are matched to a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher mentor who help guide their research. Here are some of the Rice faculty who have hosted participants in their labs in the past!

Nano RET Benefits

Nano RET emphasizes inquiry-based learning where teachers conduct research and apply it in their classroom. Weekly activities engage participants to share their research experiences and brainstorm lesson ideas. Participants develop lesson materials based on their research experience and have the opportunity of publication. Participants also gain research presentation experience.

The Nano RET program opens the door to new ideas, connections, and enables teachers to collaborate with people that share the same passion for education and science.

2023–2024 Nano RET Program*

Participation in Nano RET requires attending both the summer and school year training sessions. Program dates and other program expectations are listed below.

Applications open: December 16, 2022

Applications close: April 19, 2023.

All forms are due by this date.

*Program times, dates, locations, and compensation subject to change before the first day of the program.
**Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident to apply.

Summer Training

The summer portion of Nano RET includes:

  • A beginning 3-day workshop on engineering design, lesson development-based research, laboratory safety training, and digital media training; ​
  • Orientation: June 5-6, 2023
  • Research: June 7 - July 17, 2023
  • Working with assigned graduate student/postdoctoral research mentors in a research laboratory;
  • Leadership seminars; and
  • The Engineering Research Symposium for Teachers, where participants will present their research
    • Symposium: July 18, 2023
School Year Training

The fall & spring portions of Nano RET include:

  • Three 3-hour evening workshops on engineering design and lesson plan development in the fall;
  • Sharing your research project and/or lesson plan at another R-STEM professional development program;
  • Co-leading a Saturday NanoAcademy for at least 30 students from your and other participants' schools in February;
  • Submitting your developed lesson plan to (or another reputable peer review venue) in March; and
  • Attending the RET Portfolio Closing Ceremony in April.

Applicants will be notified of their status by May 8, 2023. Space is very limited, therefore, completing the application process and being selected for an interview does NOT guarantee placement in the program.

Houston, TX area teachers of all grade levels and subjects are welcome to apply, but STEM teachers will receive priority consideration. Due to our funding agency, applicants must be U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident to apply. Once final candidates have been selected, all other interviewed applicants may be placed on a waitlist.

Apply here!

Applicants will be required to submit:

  • An updated resume that lists education and employment history; and
  • A personal statement about why you are applying to the Nano RET program. This statement should be 1 page in length and will be used to determine selection and lab placement; and
  • A completed and signed Participant Acknowledgement Letter (PAL). By signing the form, the applicant agrees to participate in all required Nano RET sessions.

If you are unable to upload these documents to your application, you can email them to

Benefits & Expectations

The expectations of Nano RET interns include, but are not limited to:

  • Working full-time (40 hours) in the laboratory or on research each week of the summer internship;
  • Documenting summer hours and submitting time sheets on time;
  • Completing a poster on summer research;
  • Attending and presenting at the Engineering Research for Teachers Symposium;
  • Developing and submitting a lesson plan based on summer research;
  • Attending and presenting at a Saturday NanoAcademy; and
  • Timely completion and submission of all course assignments and homework.

For completing all program requirements, interns will receive:

  • 6-weeks worth of sustained and supported professional development at Rice University;
  • $7,000 in stipends (spread out over the summer and school year);
  • Networking opportunities with fellow teachers; and
  • Training and guidance in presenting and creating original lesson plans.

*RET program is contingent upon funding.

Program Flyer

Below is copy of the Nano RET flyer. You can access a PDF version for download here.


    Nano RET Administration

    If you have any questions about Nano RET, you can contact the program lead.

    Isaias Cerda
    Associate Director for Science Education and English Language Learners
    713-348-3197 |

    *Program times, dates, locations, and compensation subject to change before the first day of the program.
    **Must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident to apply.

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    Contact Information

    Telephone: (713) 348-8211
    Fax: (713) 348-3825

    Mailing Address

    Office of STEM Engagement
    Rice University
    P.O. Box 1892, MS-7836
    Houston, TX 77251-1892

    Street Address

    IBC Plaza Houston
    5615 Kirby Dr.
    Suite 730
    Houston, TX 77005-2445