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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Jocelyn Bowie
IU College of Arts and Sciences

Last modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010

National Science Foundation provides IU $1.2 million to prepare more science teachers

Aug. 18, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) is awarding Indiana University a $1.2 million grant over the next five years to begin the "Indiana Noyce Science Scholars" program. The program starting this fall -- a joint venture of the IU School of Education and the IU College of Arts and Sciences -- will assist and accelerate the pathway from a bachelor's degree in a science field to a master's degree in secondary education with a teaching license.

Science Lab

The IU School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences team up to help people with bachelor's degrees in a science field achieve a master's degree in secondary education.

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In exchange for scholarship money, program participants agree to teach in a high-needs Indiana school corporation after earning their degrees.

The award is part of the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, which awards grants to colleges and universities through the NSF for scholarships to prospective science and mathematics teachers. Recipients are both undergraduates majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines who are preparing to become K-12 math and science teachers and STEM professionals who are making a career change to go into teaching.

The joint bachelor's/master's degree program provides a $20,000 scholarship benefit for a three-year commitment to teaching in a high-needs corporation. Majors in a science area can start working on a graduate degree before the bachelor's is completed.

"The last semester of their undergraduate degree can count for both their undergraduate degree and their first semester of work on their master's degree in secondary education through the School of Education," said project co-director Bob Sherwood, associate dean for research and professor of science education at the IU School of Education "It provides a way to encourage students who are extremely well-qualified in sciences to consider teaching and to go ahead and get a professional master's degree plus their licensure."

Others finishing their undergraduate degree in a science area or who already have a bachelor's in a science field are eligible for $15,000 in scholarships and would enter the "Transition to Teaching" program in the School of Education. These Noyce recipients are required to teach for at least two years in a high-needs school corporation. Several Indiana school systems have partnered with IU Bloomington in the "Transition to Teaching" program. For this project, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., North Lawrence Community Schools, Monroe County Community School Corp., North Daviess Community Schools and Paoli Community School Corp. will work with students who receive Noyce Scholarships as part of their preparation program.

With the scholarship incentive and the streamlined program, Sherwood said the program aims to increase the number of science teachers graduating annually by 50 percent.

"We find there are a lot of students who are interested in becoming high school teachers, but really do want to focus their undergraduate careers on the science disciplines to get a really strong grounding," said Caty Pilachowski, project co-director, Kirkwood Chair of the Department of Astronomy and associate dean for graduate education in the IU College of Arts and Sciences. "This program gives them the opportunity to do that and end up after five years ready to teach with the certification and the experience they need."

The Noyce Scholarship program has a strong track record at IU. Noyce scholarships to prepare math and science teachers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis began in 2005, adding a graduate Noyce Scholars program in 2008. In 2006, the IU School of Education and the Department of Mathematics in IU Bloomington's College of Arts and Sciences teamed to earn an NSF grant to create undergraduate and graduate scholarships over four years.

"The success of our faculty in securing the nationally competitive Noyce Scholarship funding is an excellent example of collaboration between academic units and across IU campuses to address a critical need in the state," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education. "This will go a long way toward preparing the highly qualified science teachers needed in Indiana to transform its economy into a life sciences base."

"Collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education benefits both the students and the state," said David Zaret, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "We have a shared goal to increase the number of science teachers in Indiana. The Noyce scholarship is a wonderful opportunity to do that."

Recruiting for the first class of Noyce Science Scholars under the new grant will begin right away. Organizing events will begin soon after the start of the fall semester.

Pilachowski said she expects the program to strengthen the ties between IU and current science teachers as well by helping to reinforce the university's reputation as a good place for a science education.

"I think the connection, the partnership, really can strengthen the number of teachers that we can produce and their training in the state of Indiana," she said. "And that's a circular thing. The more teachers we produce, the more they can interest students in going into careers in science. This is just a program where everybody wins."

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