University of Arkansas POETS RET program wins Springdale Schools “School Partner of the Year” Award 

Poets Award Picture

The University of Arkansas Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) was awarded the “School Partner of the Year” award by Springdale Schools Education Foundation.

This is the 9th year the Partnership in Education has recognized partnerships across the district but only the 7th year since the Education Foundation has been involved and have recognized partnerships like this one between the University of Arkansas POETS Center and Hellstern Middle School.  This year there were approximately 12 nominations for School Partner of the Year. 

The UA POETS RET program began in the summer of 2016.  Shawn Bell, a 7th grade science teacher at the time who is now the science specialist for the U of A STEM Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMASE), and Mike Jackson, an AP physics and chemistry teacher from Farmington High School, participating in the Research Experience for Teachers program through POETS.

These teachers experienced five short courses with various POETS  faculty working in difference research areas aimed at the center's research goals. From these short courses, Bell developed a lesson plan centered around thermal energy, heat transfer and how temperature related to kinetic energy.  UA then partnered with Hellstern Middle School to pilot these lesson plans in their sixth grade science classrooms in October 2016.  The Hellstern Middle School teachers that participated in the program are Tammy Guthrie, Math and Science Instructional Facilitator; Kathy Prophet, Greg Herzig, and Cassie Kautzer, 6th grade science teachers.


The lesson plans and activities that resulted from the research are available to any teacher who wishes to use them through CMASE as well as the other five STEM centers around the state.  Since the lesson plans and activities meet current Next Generation Science Standards, they are useful to anyone in the country.


“We look for partnerships that engage large numbers of students, but more importantly, we want to recognize those partnerships that give kids an opportunity to have experiences they would otherwise never have….that is what makes this partnership so awesome,” said Chris Stecklein, Executive Director, Education Foundation, Springdale Schools.  “What the kids at Hellstern get to experience as a part of this undertaking is unique and incredible.  I also was very impressed with what the Grad Students at the University are getting out of this partnership.  It is always great when we can recognize a true partnership…where both parties are contributing to the partnership and both parties are getting a true benefit from the partnership.  This relationship hits that mark perfectly.”

The program concluded with an on campus tour for 462 sixth grade Hellstern Middle School students and their teachers on May 22nd-24th, 2017.  The students toured NCREPT, HiDEC, the UA campus and lunched at Baum Stadium.  At NCREPT, the students participated in demonstrations of electrical energy.  At HiDEC, they had an introduction to the clean room, a demonstration of heat transfer through a diamond plate to cut ice and a hands-on introduction to a 3D printer. 


In Classroom Experiment Video 



Partnership in Education Award Video


The 2017 RET program is already under way to build on the program created in 2016.  The POETS Center’s ambitious and innovative research goal is to increase the power density of current mobile electrified systems by 10-100 times over current state of the art systems.  Results from this study could save highway vehicles between 100-300 million liters of fuel per year.


The Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems Center is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center.  At this center, engineering faculty from the University of Arkansas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Howard University and Stanford University collaborate with members of industry to identify and carry out research projects to improve the power density of next generation electro-thermal systems that are the most relevant to industry needs.


For more information on the University of Arkansas POETS education programs, contact Shannon Davis at   For more information on the POETS center, contact Alan Mantooth, deputy director, at