To engage students in authentic field-based science, teachers need time to deepen their understanding of research and its applicability to their teaching and students. The NSF-funded (RET) program matches K-12 teachers with scientists for 8-10 weeks of field data collection and independent research. The goal of the LTER RET program is to enhance the professional development of K-12 science educators through research experience at the emerging frontiers of science in order to bring new knowledge into the classroom. RETs are recruited from a variety of site partnerships. The RETs become intensely involved in individual research projects, and they are exposed to each sites broader research program. The goals of the programs vary from site to site although are based on similar principles.
With the help of a virtual classroom, several LTER programs coordinate RET exchanges. Sites are encouraged to demonstrate the diversity of research experiences available across LTER sites allowing participants to connect with other educational professionals and learn new strategies for bringing science to their students. The exchange allows educators to share their experiences and build contacts and hear innovative new ideas. These cross site exchanges allow teachers to learn, practice, reflect, and implement ideas with other teachers and scientists and is an opportunity to transform the way teachers implement in their classrooms. See LTER intranet article: http://news.lternet.edu/Article
A list of RET-like programs in the U.S. for K - 14: http://www.retnetwork.org/about.php