The Illinois State University REU for Pre-service and In-service Secondary Mathematics Teachers (ISU REU) is an eight-week summer research experience in discrete mathematics for 8 pre-service and 4 in-service secondary mathematics teachers. Participants explore research topics in discrete mathematics with emphasis on experimentation, formulation of researchable questions, careful reasoning and justification, and clear, precise reporting. Most of the investigated topics are in the areas of graph and hypergraph designs, affine and projective designs, graph and hypergraph decompositions and labelings, graph coloring, and vector space partitions. An added emphasis of the project is on the development and implementation, by the REU participants, of a one‐week Mathematics Research Camp for 12 high school students from the Chicago Public School (CPS) district.
REU participants work in teams of three undergraduates, one practicing teacher, and a faculty mentor on one or more problems with a common theme. The participants are on campus for 30 hours each week with a faculty member available at all times. The main objective of the project is to provide a genuine research opportunity for the participants, helping them to become highly qualified teachers who can meet the national demands for increased student proficiency and adapt to the changing needs of our technological society. Providing teachers an authentic mathematics research experience develops in them the habits of mind of a mathematician that can then be encouraged and fostered in their future students. The math research camp for CPS students is held during the sixth week of the REU and is intended to give the REU participants an opportunity to apply what they learned during the REU in a high school classroom setting. In the final week of the site, the project teams devote the bulk of their energy to preparation of results for dissemination, which includes presentations at the Joint Mathematics Meetings and other venues. Each REU project generally produces one or more conference presentations, and many also produce papers published in undergraduate or professional journals.