STEM Research Institute


In 2014, Questar III introduced the STEM Research Institute (SRI) – modeled after a successful Columbia University science teacher professional development program.  SRI provides an opportunity for secondary school teachers of science, mathematics, engineering or technology to work for two summers under the mentorship of researchers or STEM industry professionals, participating in authentic scientific research or working in STEM businesses related to the content they teach.

In addition to the hands-on workplace experiences and engagement with STEM professionals, educators dedicate 1 day each week during the summer to share their experiences with SRI colleagues and collaborate to create lesson plans for their classrooms. The benefits are two-fold:

  • Upon completion of the program, teachers have shared how these workplace experiences have exponentially increased their understanding of the modern STEM workplace and have impacted their classrooms in multiple ways, including changes in instructional practices, increased student engagement and higher levels of academic achievement. 
  • Students are introduced to curriculum that are based on real world, real time STEM workplace applications, learning how concepts in the classroom are relevant to research and STEM work resulting in increased student interest in STEM college and career pathways

Since its inception, the program has partnered with and/or received support from a variety of recognizable institutions including NYS Wadsworth Laboratories, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, SUNY Poly and Albany College of Pharmacy as well as Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, IBM, Global Foundries, National Grid, the Center for Economic Growth, General Electric and Vicarious Visions.

And the program benefits go beyond these educators and their classrooms as the lesson plans created through these experiences are presented at education conferences statewide and around the country and are available as well on Questar III’s website for colleagues to modify or introduce as is in their classrooms. 

Would you like to learn more about this innovative STEM program? Please contact Jane King ( or Jim Church ( for more information.

Teachers study video game development

Vicarious Visions hosted six teachers from three districts, and insights gained from the internship will be used to develop a course in video game development.

Summer STEM Q&A – Sam Ziebel, North Colonie CSD

In his second year in the program, Sam Ziebel is working at NYS DOH Wadsworth lab studying the effects of nitrous acid on the environment.

Summer STEM Q&A – Micaela Ethier

Ethier teaches high school geometry at Shenendehowa CSD. She is spending her summer working at National Grid in our Summer STEM Research Institute.

Summer STEM Q&A – Nathan Porter

Nathan Porter teaches Physics and Computer Science at Maple Hill High School in Schodack and he is part of our first cohort of teachers working with Vicarious Visions.

Summer STEM Q&A: Valerie Gordon, East Greenbush CSD

East Greenbush CSD Art Teacher Valerie Gordon is working with Vicarious Visions this summer through our Summer STEM Research Institute.

Summer STEM Q&A: Karyn Rees, Averill Park CSD

Karyn Rees is spending her first summer in the STEM Research Program working at SUNY Polytechnic Institute studying nano microscopes.

Summer STEM Q&A: Dawn Wetmore, Berlin CSD

In her first year in the Summer STEM Research Institute, Dawn Wetmore of Berlin CSD is researching and programming autonomous fuel cell dispensaries.

Recognizing our STEM Research Institute Partners

On Dec. 6, we recognized teachers and business partners who took part in our Summer STEM Research Institute this summer.

STEM Research Institute hosts Congressman Paul Tonko

On Wednesday, August 15, Congressman Paul Tonko met with teachers, mentors and business partners from Questar III’s STEM Research Institute.

Summer STEM Q&A – Tom Guile, Coxsackie-Athens CSD

In his second year in the Summer STEM Research Institute, Coxsackie-Athens CSD Teacher Tom Guile is working at SUNY Polytechnic Institute studying electricity and light.

2019 Participants:

Caitlin Colwell (1st year) English, Schodack CSD
Vicarious Visions

Jason Defrias (1st year) English, East Greenbush CSD
Vicarious Visions

Matt Duff (1st year) Technology, Averill Park CSD
Vicarious Visions

Micaela Ethier (1st year) Math, Shenendehowa CSD
National Grid

Valerie Gordon (1st year) Art, East Greenbush CSD
Vicarious Visions

Christopher McDermith (1st year), Technology, Schodack CSD
Vicarious Visions

Brian McDonnell (1st year) Technology, Catskill CSD

Mike McGillycuddy (1st year) Construction Technologies, Questar III BOCES
MMC Millworks

Terry Miller (1st year) Math, Averill Park CSD
Vicarious Visions

Nate Porter (3rd year) Technology, Coding, Physics, Schodack CSD
Vicarious Visions

Karyn Rees (1st year) Physics, Averill Park CSD
SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Tim Ryan (2nd year) Math, Computer Science, Schodack CSD

Judith Selig (1st year) Science – Biology, Ballston Spa CSD
Hudson Valley Community College

Erin Sharkey (1st year) Science – Biology, Greenville CSD

Dawn Wetmore (1st year) Technology, Berlin CSD
Plug Power

Sam Ziebel (2nd year) Science – Chemistry, Troy CSD
Wadsworth Center

Read more about why Questar III has implemented this program here.

See a full list of past cohorts here.

Share This