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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Academics & Research

teachHOUSTON receives grant from National Science Foundation


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The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics received a long-term grant from the National Science Foundation. | Courtesy of teachHouston

Researchers on campus can rejoice.

UH received a $1.45 million boost from the National Science Foundation to aid its teachHOUSTON math and science teacher preparation program.

According to a news release from the University, the program was awarded a five-year grant from the NSF’s Robert Noyce Scholarship Program to develop future teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

“This track, which acts as a students’ Natural Sciences and Mathematics capstone, offers hands-on teaching experience, develops effective communication skills and gives students the option of teaching after graduation,” said Paige Evans, a clinical associate professor with teachHOUSTON and principal investigator (PI) for the grant.

Along with her co-PIs — associate professor of physics Donna Stokes, assistant professor of biology and biochemistry Steven Bark and associate professor in the College of Education Catherine Horne— Evans will establish University of Houston: Learning through Informal and Formal Experience (UH-LIFE).

“This grant will help us provide our pre-service teachers and graduates with the support they need to be successful,” Evans said.

This will supplement the existing teachHOUSTON movements, which support and exercise strategies to promote long-term teacher retention.

teachHOUSTON was created in response to the shortage of qualified STEM teachers in secondary education.

The program will establish connections between graduates and undergraduates so that when they are ready to start teaching, they will have a mentor to fall back on.

“The teachHOUSTON program is great because it advocates hands-on learning for students,” said biochemical and biophysical sciences senior Jamie Lehnen, a current Noyce scholar.

The UH-LIFE program will also collaborate with Wharton County Junior College. The students will have the opportunity to follow the track and participate in summer institute activities at UH.

“The program’s largest goal is to make science and mathematics enjoyable to students by showing them how applicable STEM is,” Lehnen said.

teachHOUSTON aspires to bring together students who are following similar paths.

“This program offers a variety of unique opportunities for those who enjoy science and wish to reach out to others academically, ” said biochemistry and biophysics senior Jessica Itzep, a current Noyce scholar participating in the program.

The Noyce grant will offer 72 scholarships to students who are finishing their undergraduate studies. Eight will be offered during the first year with the rest being offered throughout the remaining years of the grant.

Seventeen percent of these funds will be for Wharton College students who have transferred to UH, with the remaining scholarships available to all teachHOUSTON students.

Evans said the grant will help students by increasing the level of support offered to them.

“The hope is that every student will have the financial support they need so that they can focus on their teaching,” Evans said.

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