“When am I ever going to use this in real life?” That is the oft-heard refrain from middle- and high-school science students, struggling through labs and formulas that feel as far removed from their day-to-day as, well, space travel. Sarthak…
University receives highly competitive grant to put more science and mathematics teachers in the classroom
The Department of Science Teaching in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences recently received a $900,000 Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This highly competitive grant will enable the University to place graduates in rural and urban schools where there is a critical shortage of highly qualified science and mathematics teachers nationwide.
The NSF expanded the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. SU’s new program is a direct result of increased federal support—through the economic stimulus package—for preparing secondary school teachers in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
“Many people are attracted to teaching because they want to have a positive impact on the lives of others,” says John Tillotson, associate professor and coordinator of the adolescent science teacher education program. “This new program will enable us to place the best and brightest scientists and mathematicians in classrooms that are in most desperate need and where these teachers can significantly impact student learning.”
Tillotson, who holds a dual appointment in the Teaching and Leadership Program in SU’s School of Education, is the principle investigator for the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant. Collaborators on the project include the departments of mathematics and biology in The College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School and the School of Education.
The Noyce funding will enable SU to nearly double the number of science and mathematics teachers it graduates over the next five years and provide support to the newly minted teachers in their jobs. The funding will also enable SU to increase efforts to recruit talented undergraduate students and mid-career professionals to become STEM teachers.
Undergraduate students who are selected as Noyce Scholars will be eligible to receive as much as $10,000 a year for up to three years to complete a baccalaureate degree program in the sciences or mathematics in The College of Arts and Sciences, and earn a teaching certificate through the School of Education. Mid-career professionals or recent STEM graduates will be offered the opportunity to apply for scholarships of as much as $20,000 for one year to complete a master’s degree program in science or mathematics teacher education. SU is also partnering with Onondaga and Monroe community colleges to recruit students majoring in the STEM disciplines for the Noyce Scholarship Program.
Noyce Scholars must agree to teach for two years in a high-needs rural or urban school district for each year of scholarship support they receive. To ease their transition into the classroom, the SU Noyce Scholars Program will provide a robust mentoring and professional development program for the new teachers through a comprehensive faculty mentoring program in the participating districts, as well as summer workshops and other programs on the SU campus.
The SU Noyce Scholars Program will also offer unique internship opportunities for freshman and sophomore science, mathematics and engineering majors to introduce them to career options in the educational field. Eligible students will be offered a stipend of as much as $1,200 per summer to participate in one of several programs working with K-12 science and mathematics learners in a variety of school and community-based settings in Central New York. The settings include summer enrichment programs offered at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology (MOST), the Baltimore Woods Nature Center, the Lime Hollow Nature Center, and programs sponsored by SU and its corporate partners, such as the Bristol-Myers Squibb Science Horizons program and others.
“We are hoping the internship opportunities will help students become excited about teaching,” Tillotson says. “Additionally, the Noyce scholarships will help decrease the debt burden for graduates, allowing them to accept highly rewarding opportunities in rural and urban districts, which often struggle to attract and retain outstanding science and mathematics teachers.”