The National Science Foundation has awarded California State University, Northridge a $797,000 grant to encourage talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors to become science and math teachers.
The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program will provide financial support of up to $12,000 per year for a maximum of two years to students preparing to be middle or high school science and math teachers. In return, the students must commit to teach in a high-need school for at least two years after earning their credential.
“There is a tremendous shortage of math and science teachers,” said CSUN science education professor Norm Herr. “This grant is designed to provide scholarships to undergraduate and credential students, to help them complete the program and ultimately become teachers of science and math in middle and high school and help address that shortage.”
Herr and his colleagues in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education are working with faculty in the College of Science and Mathematics to ensure that promising STEM students have the support they need to successfully complete their bachelor’s degree and subsequent teaching credential program. The students will have opportunities to work with peers in their Noyce cohort and faculty on special projects, attend conferences and workshops, and participate in other activities designed to help them become effective teachers.
“One of the big concerns in the United States is that we don’t have a trained workforce in science and math,” said biology professor Virginia Oberholzer Vandergon. “We’ve got to start thinking about how to really produce quality STEM majors so that we can have a stronger workforce. That starts with getting students interested in math and science while they are still in the K-12 environment. Good quality teachers in middle school and high school can make a huge difference.
“We have to have teachers who have a passion for the subject and recognize that students can do this,” she continued. “Even as young as middle school, you have students who say they aren’t good at math or science — that they can’t do it. My belief is that anybody can do it. They just need to learn the tools to help them get through it. Having a teacher who is really strong in the content knowledge and knows how to approach students who learn in a variety ways is important.”
“In the 28 years that I have been teaching at CSUN, nearly 100 percent of our science credential candidates have gotten jobs,” added Herr. “We need to increase the size of the pipeline of those considering teaching science and math. This grant is a good step in that direction.”
Vandergon, mathematics professor Kellie Evans from the College of Science and Mathematics, Herr and secondary education professor Brian Foley from the Eisner College are the main investigators on the grant.