The goal of our pre-college program is to improve attitudes towards STEM through formal and informal engagement with cycles of scientific inquiry and engineering design processes. We hope to have long-term engagement with students through multiple programs and allow for intergenerational learning by engaging POETS undergraduates, graduates and faculty members with our pre-college activities.

Research Experience for Teachers (RET)

Young Scholars Summer Research Program

Engineering clubs and competitions

Informal Outreach

Below is the list of POETS’s partner public schools:

  • East St. Louis School District #189
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Tuscola Community Unit School District #301
  • Rantoul Township High School
  • Champaign Unit #4

Pre-College Education News

Posted: June 8th,  2017


In the spring of 2017 67 sophomore chemistry students at University Laboratory High School in Urbana, IL were given a challenge to study the behavior of heat pipes. This activity was apart of the RET curriculum developed by David Bergandine, a 2016 POETS RET teacher.

Heat pipes are heat transfer devices consisting of a sealed pipe or tube partially filled with a “working fluid” and a wick down the length of the pipe. Students were asked to determine the influence of a particular variable on heat pipe performance. The students identified at least ten variables: length, diameter, wall thickness, wick material, working fluid, liquid volume, tubing metal, closure fixatives (caps and adhesives), and thermal conductivity of cop-per at various thicknesses. Each group was formed around their interests and individual abilities. Over the semester students built heat pipe prototypes, designed an experimental protocol for testing their individual variable, and recorded their results.

On May 23rd POETS hosted a High School Research Symposium for the three chemistry classes where they shared their findings in the form of a poster presentation and a two-minute video. Two POETS graduate students, Thomas Foulkes (Pilawa Group) and Junho Oh (Miljkovic Group), participated as judges in this event. This is a great example of how the curriculum developed during POETS RET programs are impact local communities. Read more about this event here: