University lands new grant to prepare math, science teachers

June 19, 2009

A National Science Foundation grant will help Indiana State University continue to address a shortage of qualified math and science teachers, particularly in high needs urban and rural schools.

The $590,600 grant for the second phase of the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program will provide annual awards of $12,000 each for up to 25 students pursuing teaching careers in math and science who commit to working at least two years in a high needs school.

In the first phase of the program, from 2005 to 2009, Indiana State awarded 21 scholarships to future math and science teachers, many of whom are currently teaching in middle schools and high schools around the state.

The program is open to new or existing Indiana State students, as well as working professionals who may be interested in pursuing a career in education.

"Those who already have a degree in a science field or in mathematics may be eligible for our transition to teaching program. That program allows them to complete an education degree, do student teaching and qualify for a teaching license on a fast-track basis in just one year," said Elizabeth Brown, associate professor of mathematics and computer science and coordinator of ISU's Science Education Center.

Candidates for the transition to teaching program might include chemists and other professionals who have been laid off because of the closure of the Pfizer Corp. plant in Terre Haute or other pharmaceutical industries, noted Rusty Gonser, associate professor of biology.

"There might be people with a chemistry, mathematics or biology background that are finding it difficult to get a job. They can get a second undergraduate degree on an accelerated program and re-tool themselves for the job market. Right now, science teachers are in high need across the country," Gonser said.

"This scholarship is designed to help people who just can't afford to take a year off with no job and no pay," Brown added.

In addition to scholarships, the new grant will fund problem-based learning and clinical field experiences for Noyce Scholars and help Indiana State assess its ongoing efforts to prepare future teachers. The Vigo County School Corp., the fifth largest school district in the state, will partner with Indiana State to provide field experiences and student teaching.

"Noyce Scholars are going to be learning content in the classroom at ISU and we're going to assess that learning in coordination with their experiences in the field. If necessary, we can then change the curriculum in the classroom setting so that not only are we making our students more knowledgeable and better teachers but we're improving all the students in Vigo County and statewide," Gonser said.

"The recruitment and training of additional science and math teachers in this generous program will be of great benefit to our schools. With more and more emphasis on preparing students for challenging careers in science and math, it is important that we continue to partner with ISU to provide a rigorous K-12 teaching and learning experience in both science and math for our students," said Karen Goeller, deputy superintendent of Vigo County School Corp.

More information about the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program at Indiana State University is available by contacting the Center for Science Education at 812-237-3010 or scienceteach@indstate.edu

Contact: Elizabeth Brown, associate professor of mathematics and computer science and coordinator, Center for Science Education, Indiana State University, 812-237-3423 ebrown18@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communiations and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

A National Science Foundation grant will help Indiana State University continue to address a shortage of qualified math and science teachers, particularly in high needs urban and rural schools.

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