The Nevada Educators Really Doing Science (NERDS) program is a graduate course offered through the Raggio Research Center. NERDS combines a focus on professional development in science teaching with research in science education. NERDS is dedicated to helping teachers develop their skills in teaching science through the process of inquiry so they can implement successful science inquiry experiences for students in their own classrooms. One pre-session, an eight-day field experience, and two post-sessions provide the framework for the NERDS professional development program. The NERDS program was funded through a Nevada Math Science Partnership (MSP) grant that ran through August 2012. NERDS successfully ran for eleven years and utilized both classroom and authentic hands-on learning experiences. The NERDS program raises teacher efficacy through increasing content knowledge and giving participants the opportunity to use technology to expand and enhance their engagement in the inquiry process.
Numerous improvements have been made to the NERDS program over the past eleven years, including adding more rigorous content knowledge, extending the field experience, implementing integrated technology, and focusing on assessment. The staff has also extended the number of locations for the field experience. The initial years' experiences took place in Newport, Oregon, Zion National Park, and, starting in 2006, the Feather River watershed in Northern California and in 2009, Lamoille Canyon near Elko, Nevada. NERDS XI ended in August 2012 and the Raggio Research Center currently has no future trips scheduled.