The Notre Dame extended Research Community was first proposed by members of the Notre Dame QuarkNet Center (NDQC). The NDQC is one of the founding twelve QuarkNet centers started in 1999. Since then QuarkNet has grown to include centers at over 50 US universities participating in particle physics research. The NDQC has established a common life and work for dozens of area researchers and educators. To date our focus has been our common work in particle physics research.
The NDeRC program is benefiting greatly from these pre-existing relationships in the NDQC.
We are able to build on these relationships to extend our efforts into all the science and engineering disciplines at Notre Dame and to include graduate students in our community for the first time.
The core idea is to use the strengths of community members from a variety of circumstances to engender, encourage and foster growth in the whole community. In NDeRC there is heavy emphasis on K-12 teachers helping to awaken in graduate students a sense of responsibility for education and public outreach and providing them with a model for effective exercise of that responsibility. Reciprocally, the graduate students can help bring the experience of belonging to the Notre Dame research community to a wider range of K-12 teachers and students.
We accomplish these goals by teaming graduate students with K-12 teachers and students for eight weeks of summer research in the graduate student's area of expertise.
During the summer these teams also discuss and plan how to enhance K-12 education locally. The relationships formed over the summer are crucial for implementing the educational plans.