Friday, June 19, 2009

GSU receives $900K grant to recruit, train science teachers

Georgia State University was recently awarded a nearly $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the number of science teachers in metro Atlanta schools.
The grant, titled “Impacting Metro-Atlanta Science Teaching,” or I-MAST, will be used to recruit, prepare and support 36 high quality science educators over the next five years.

The program will offer scholarships to undergraduate majors studying content in the STEM fields, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Scholarships will also be available for graduates who hold a degree in the STEM areas and are interested in going into secondary science teaching careers.

Students will study in Georgia State’s Master of Arts in Teaching program in the College of Education, Department of Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology.
“Especially in Georgia, there is a tremendous need for science teachers,” said Anton Puvirajah, assistant professor of science education at GSU, who is directing the project with several colleagues. “Through this program, we hope to increase the number of highly trained science teachers.”

I-MAST is a collaboration between GSU’s College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Georgia Institute of Technology and four public school districts in the Metro Atlanta area.

The first scholarship recipients are expected to enroll at GSU in fall 2010. Applicants will have at least a junior level status at their undergraduate study either at Georgia State’s College of Arts and Sciences or Georgia Tech, or have a minimum bachelor’s degree in a STEM area.

Undergraduate students who commit to pursue a secondary science teacher certification at Georgia State will receive a two-year scholarship totaling $24,000 to be used in their senior year of undergraduate studies and in their year of teacher certification studies. STEM graduates will receive a one-year scholarship of $12,000 to complete their teacher certification studies.

Scholarship recipients will be obligated to teach two years in a Metro Atlanta high need school district for every year of funding received.

A report by the University System of Georgia warns that by 2010 Georgia will need to produce 2,060 middle school and high school teachers of life sciences, chemistry, earth sciences and physics. However in the 2008 academic year, only 90 science teachers were prepared in Georgia, according to the Board of Regents statistics.

“The partnership between GSU and Georgia Tech is a great way to bring bright young scientists into the classroom,” said Jennifer Leavey, director of Undergraduate Academic Services in the Georgia Tech School of Biology. “Tech is a nationally-ranked leader in undergraduate science education, but has no route for certifying K-12 teachers. GSU has an excellent College of Education and is only a few blocks away.”

Scholarship applicants must have an overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, appropriate academic backgrounds in science content, three letters of recommendation and a 350 -500 word narrative statement about their desire to become a secondary science teacher in a high-need school.

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