NSF grant supports prospective science and math teachers

By Amanda Koeck

The campus has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation aimed at attracting undergraduates interested in becoming secondary science and math teachers. The money will fund more than 50 scholarships.

The three-year grant helps fund the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Bridge Program, a collaborative effort of the School of Education, the STEM Education Institute and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Each scholarship is worth more than $8,000. The scholarships are available to undergraduates who plan to be math or science teachers. The scholarship recipients are required to teach for two years in a high-need school district in exchange for each year of scholarship support. They may receive aid for one or two years.

The project particularly targets transfer students from community colleges and the University Without Walls program along with other nontraditional, minority and low-income students who will be able to receive teacher certification as undergraduates.

“The STEM Bridge Project builds upon the past achievements of the STEM Ed Institute in the reform of undergraduate STEM teaching and the support for new teachers,” said professor Allan Feldman of the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies and principle investigator of the grant. He adds, “The School of Education at UMass is one of the largest preparers of science and mathematics teachers in Massachusetts and is a leader in teacher education as well as in educational research.”

Co-principle investigators of the grant are professors Portia Elliot from the Department of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, Morton Sternheim from the STEM Ed Institute and Farshid Hajir of Mathematics.

The STEM Bridge scholars will benefit from an introductory course in mathematics and science, a series of academic and social events, and support from mentors and advisors. Teachers new to the profession will have access to a New Teacher Support Group, Saturday Science and Engineering Seminars, STEM education seminars and the opportunity to enroll in several master’s degree programs in education.