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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Academics & Research

New center STEMs funds

A new center geared toward the improvement of teaching strategies and context knowledge in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math landed at UH this summer, bringing with it funds to make it run.

UH was one of three universities selected by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to fund a Center for STEM Teacher Professional Learning with a $400,000 two-year grant. Education professor Wallace Dominey, physics professor Rebecca Forrest and engineering professor Fritz Claydon will be co-principal investigators of the center.

“This program grew out of the two-year grant that physics professor Margaret Cheung and Wallace Dominey received from the Texas Teacher Quality Grant Program to improve training of high school physics teachers,” Forrest said in a press release from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

“That success led to this center, which is allowing for collaboration on (the) best teaching practices in K-12 STEM education, as well as at the university level.”

As a collaboration between the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Cullen College of Engineering and the College of Education, the UH center will provide teacher training that includes opportunities to explore UH research labs along with follow-up sessions throughout the academic year.

“Most high school physics teachers did not major or minor in physics,” Dominey said in the release. “Center training is an opportunity for teachers to improve their physics content knowledge, while also improving their instructional strategies.”

This summer, a group of local high school physics teachers began their 120 hours of professional development with UH physics professors, which includes training throughout the academic year.

Along with training, the center will allow UH STEM undergraduate courses to be more discovery based, according to the release, as well as faculty research into the “’best practices’ in STEM education with particular emphasis on diverse learners, such as students with limited English proficiency.” 

“The key to our nation’s response to the crisis in STEM education is to meet the needs of diverse students as the U.S. population becomes more and more diverse. As the most ethnically diverse research university in the U.S., UH is ideally suited to take up this challenge,” Dominey said.

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