Research Experience for Teachers (RET)


“RET is a game changer in the classroom. If people want to invest in making a difference in education, this a program that is doing just that.” - RET School District Partner

Program Type

Teacher Development/Training
Hands on/Project-Based
Work Readiness/Employment

Target Audience

Teachers/Educational Leaders




Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Promising link

Program Impact

RET goals: help build long-term partnerships between K-12 and Industry; change pedagogical practices in the classroom allowing teachers to provide industry relevant experiences aligned to NGSS Science & Engineering Practices; and increase student interest in STEM. The Institute encourages underrepresented populations to enter STEM fields. To date 80% of teacher participants came from schools with high rates of low-income, English language learner and diverse student populations. 

We aim to serve 20 teachers annually, reaching roughly 3000 students annually. In 2017, 100% of teachers shifted pedagogical practices in multiple ways, focusing more heavily on students’ opportunities to think and act like scientists. 2016/17 student data showed 91.5% of students stated it was “somewhat” or “very likely” they would have a career that involved science, engineering or technology.


Program Overview

The STEM Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program gives teachers real-world, hands-on, industry-relevant experiences that remind them of the nature and applications of science.

RET connects 6th-12th grade teachers to industry partners for a one-year program comprised of a summer internship and professional development throughout the year. The summer internship pairs teachers with mentors at innovative STEM companies where they work on real-world projects. Teachers also participate in five facilitated professional development sessions centered on the Next Generation Science Standards’ Science and Engineering Practices to guide change in teaching practices and bring their company experience back to the classroom. Through the Institute’s distinctive model, teachers gain firsthand knowledge of what it is like to be a STEM professional by participating in hands-on experiences while interning in STEM companies.

RET is an intensive program implemented where teachers spend about 130 hours working on real world-projects at innovative STEM companies and 30-plus hours in teacher professional development. The goal is to help build long-term collaborative partnerships between 6th-12th-grade teachers and STEM companies. By providing experiential opportunities, along with professional development, classroom implementation planning time, and authentic materials, RET is making a tremendous impact in Colorado’s STEM classes.

How To Get Involved

The Institute continues expanding the RET program to other industries, developing partnerships with STEM companies both inside and out of Bioscience. In addition to supporting the program financially (approx. $6,000/teacher), the Institute invites companies to explore a partnership hosting a teacher.

As a host company, an employee acts as a mentor to a teacher, overseeing a hands-on project for the teacher’s intern experience. Additionally, employees are encouraged to participate beyond the mentorship role by sharing their professional skills. Host companies are invited to create new opportunities for engagement with teachers and students. For example, one host company organized a tour and engineering challenge for students of a participating teacher. 

Funders and Partners
  • Anschutz Foundation
  • AstraZeneca
  • Allosource
  • Mabel Y. Hughes Charitable Trust
  • Sharklet Technologies
  • TOLMAR, Inc.
  • Terumo BCT


Meg John, Vice President

View website

Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.