ETSU faculty receive NSF grant to recruit, train high school teachers in STEM fields
Outdoor group shot of co-investigators on the NSF Noyce Scholarship grant. Pictured are, from left-right: front row – Drs. Mohammad Moin Uddin, Aimee Govett and Beverly Smith, and back row – Drs. Scott Kirkby and Michele Joyner.
JOHNSON CITY (April 26, 2019) – Faculty at East Tennessee State University have received a grant of $1,198,971 from the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to recruit and train high school teachers of science, mathematics, technology, and computing.
The majority of this grant is dedicated to scholarships for the Masters of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) Program for students with bachelor’s degrees in five key subjects: physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering technology and computer science.
“There is a high need for high school teachers in those subjects in eastern Tennessee and nation-wide,” said Dr. Beverly Smith, a professor in ETSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the lead investigator on the proposal. “The goal of this program is to encourage students majoring in those subjects to become high school teachers.
“Because of the many required courses, it is difficult for undergraduates majoring in those areas to complete both their major and the education courses needed for teacher certification within just four years. These scholarships are intended for students who are finishing undergraduate degrees in those areas to then enroll in the M.A.T. program. The idea is to recruit the best and brightest of our students into the teacher education program, after they have already finished their subject training.”
The other co-investigators on this proposal are Dr. Michele Joyner, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics; Dr. Aimee Govett, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction; Dr. Mohammad Moin Uddin, associate professor in the Department of Engineering, Engineering Technology and Surveying; and Dr. Scott Kirkby, professor in the Department of Chemistry.
According to Smith, “One of the strengths of our proposal is the collaboration between so many departments, from three different colleges at ETSU, including the College of Arts and Sciences, the Clemmer College and the College of Business and Technology. The undergraduate programs provide strong backgrounds in the subject areas, while the M.A.T. program provides a broad and comprehensive background in education, including teaching strategies and pedagogy, to prepare them well for a career in teaching.”
This grant also provides funding to support a summer internship program for undergraduate majors in those fields. Undergraduates majoring in the targeted subjects will be placed as interns at local non-profit science educational organizations, science museums, and summer science camps.
Partners on this proposal include the ETSU Natural History Museum/Gray Fossil Site and the Hands On! Discovery Center in Gray, three summer science/math/technology camps at ETSU, the Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium in Kingsport and the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute in Brevard, North Carolina.
The interns will be trained and mentored by ETSU faculty, professionals at the partner institutions and local high school teachers.
The goal of the internship program is to help students gain confidence in their abilities to teach by giving them experience leading group exercises, running classroom activities, leading group tours and giving talks to the public.
“These experiences will be invaluable to students, whatever their final career path,” Smith says. “The skills they will learn as interns will help them whether they go on to graduate school in their field, work in industry or become teachers.”
The NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program encourages talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students and professionals to pursue teaching careers in elementary and secondary schools. The program seeks to increase the number of K-12 teachers with strong STEM content knowledge who teach in high-need school districts.
For more information about the program, see https://www.etsu.edu/cas/physics/noyce.php .