Research Experience for Teachers (RET)

  • Teachers from Prince George's County Public School District participating in a teacher training program.

    Teachers from Prince George's County Public School District participating in a teacher training program.

  • Teachers in a professional development workshop.

    Teachers in a professional development workshop.

Through the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) summer program at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), local middle school teachers will have the opportunity to work alongside environmental scientists. Teachers will have opportunities for hands-on fieldwork and lab work experiences working side-by-side with researchers. Additionally, teachers will participate in professional development workshops designed to help them work with students outdoors and integrate real world data and data analysis into their classrooms. Over the summer, teachers are expected to develop at least one lesson plan based on their experiences that they can implement in their classrooms during the school year. SERC researchers and education staff will continue to serve as a resource for teachers and students throughout the school year.  

If you have questions about the program, we’ll be holding drop-in office hours from 4 pm-5 pm on Tuesday, February 15 and 5 pm-6 pm on Wednesday, February 23. You can sign up for office hours here. If you have questions but are unable to attend office hours, please email program lead Alison Cawood at

Currently, we are planning to have teachers working on-site at SERC at least part-time. However, given the uncertainties and risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, these plans may change. We will also be willing to discuss individual circumstances and make accommodations on a case-by-case basis. 

Benefits for teachers: 

  • Participate in cutting-edge environmental science research 
  • Participate in professional development courses and fieldtrips 
  • Opportunity to conduct an independent research project 
  • $8,100 stipend 
  • Costs covered (including sub coverage) to attend a professional research or STEM education conference 
  • $2,500 for supplies to implement new activities based on your RET experience in your classroom 
  • $1,200 to support a field trip to a local STEM organization 
  • Classroom visit (in-person or virtual) from SERC researchers 
  • Opportunity to receive up to 5 continuing professional development credits 
  • Smithsonian badge which allows you to access museums through the staff entrance and receive a discount in all Smithsonian museum stores 

Program Details: 

  • Program activities will cover a total of 9 weeks total, with most program activities occurring during the summer 
  • 6 weeks engaging in research and professional development activities (July 5-August 12) occurring both remotely and on the SERC campus 
  • 1 week to finalize lesson plans (August 15-August 19) 
  • Up to 2 weeks to develop and participate in activities (i.e., attending a conference with your lab mentor, presenting your work at SERC) during the school year 
  • Priority given to teachers from Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Prince George’s, and Washington DC Public Schools. 

Access the program application here. Applications are due by March 19. Applicants will be notified of decisions by April 8. You can view the form as a Word document below if you would like to preview it before you start working on the actual form.