Arkansas K-12 Students Get Research Experience and College Exposure through POETS Outreach

Achievement date: 

Students from several Arkansas high schools have joined informal and formal outreach programs conducted by researchers and staff from the Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at the University of Illinois.


Students from Farmington High School and Prairie Grove High School, both located near POETS partner University of Arkansas, participate in authentic research under the mentorship of a faculty member or graduate student and ultimately present their posters in a Power Group Summer Poster Event. Student scholars also get one-on-one coaching from a teacher mentor and participate in weekly seminars—all aimed at making students feel comfortable in a university setting, form a “science identity,” and gain confidence in attending college.


What began as an informal outreach effort on the part of POETS faculty and staff with Farmington students evolved into a formal collaboration through the Center’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) and Young Scholars Research programs. POETS then extended its Young Scholars recruitment to the Prairie Grove school, where it accepted two students for its 2019 program.

Not only do the students get exposure to college research and life, they have also assisted as alumni in recruiting peers into the program. The stronger connection between POETS and local high schools builds on success that the Center has enjoyed with other schools near Fayetteville, Arkansas, including having been awarded the “School Partner of the Year” by Springdale Schools.