Late last week UNO was announced as the recipient of a highly competitive grant from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program under the Division of Undergraduate Education, which is run out of the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the leadership of Christine Cutucache (Haddix Community Chair of Science; Biology), J.J. Conrad (Chemistry); Neal Grandgenett (Haddix Community Chair of STEM Education; Teacher Education); Renat Sabirianov (Physics), and William Tapprich (Biology) with senior personnel participants including Joshua Darr (Chemistry), Angie Hodge (Haddix Community Chair of Mathematics), Rich Lomneth (Chemistry), Michael Matthews (Mathematics), and Robert Shuster (Geography/Geology).
The NSF funding will be spread out over a five year period from 2017-2022, support pre-service, high school-level science teachers who enroll in UNO’s Bachelor of Science in Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Geography/Geology. The project represents an innovative collaboration model being undertaken between the UNO Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education.
“During the timeframe of this grant, we fully expect to produce at least 27 high school science teachers with expertise in their specific field of teaching (e.g. biology, chemistry, etc). Participants will be committed to teaching in high need schools in Nebraska-- this is critical since Nebraska faces an ongoing shortage of discipline-trained science teachers” said Christine Cutucache, the Haddix Community Chair of Science in the UNO College of Arts and Sciences. “All of the participants supported by the Noyce program will have a dual BS in the particular Science discipline and in Education. Moreover, the participants will participate in pre-professional training opportunities to gain 21st century skills and serve the community through experiences such as NE STEM 4U, Aim for the Stars, Nebraska Robotics Expo, and EUREKA! Lastly, participants will be able to participate in in-service professional development opportunities as well upon graduating from the program, such as the Teacher-Researcher Partnership Program and assessment and evaluation training to maintain a competitive edge in their respective field of science. These opportunities will ultimately serve youth in Nebraska. As we’ve established through past initiatives and continue to do so with this one, we are committed to serving Nebraska in science education.”
Cutucache explained that the grant will be used in three key areas:
- Providing structured internships in teaching and research for first-and-second-year undergraduates, referred to as Noyce Interns.
- Establishing financial, academic and professional development for third-and-fourth-year undergraduates, referred to as Noyce Scholars.
- Continuing professional development in support of former Noyce Scholars that have gone on to become Noyce Teachers (in-service teachers) for 4 years after graduating from the program.”
“The Omaha/Nebraska Science partnership is really going to help us here at UNO strengthen our secondary science teacher preparation program, creating a foundation that will continue well beyond the timeline set by the grant,” said Neal Grandgenett, the Dr. George and Sally Haddix Community Chair of STEM Education in the UNO College of Education. “We really want to be a model program for the education of culturally responsive science teachers who can succeed in the schools that need effective Science education and leadership the most.”
The Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program was launched in 2002 by the National Science Foundation and reauthorized in 2007 in order to respond to the critical need for K-12 teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by encouraging talented STEM students and professionals to pursue teaching careers in elementary and secondary schools.
UNO has previously received a NSF Noyce Award in 2014 for the collaborative preparation of mathematics teachers, and this project now extends the teacher preparation innovation into science. The leadership team will solicit formal applications for participation in the coming months.