The NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science (including engineering and computer science) teachers. The grant, in the amount of $74,801 (thus far), is to support the development of a new program in which CBU STEM majors can graduate as credentialed teachers.

“The demand for high quality STEM teachers is well known, as is competition for their talent from other career opportunities,” said Dr. Paul Haught, CBU Vice President for Academics. “What this grant does is greatly enhance CBU’s ability to activate a passion for teaching among our already talented STEM students.”

Partnering with Shelby County Schools, which faces the challenges of STEM teacher vacancies and poor student performance in STEM subjects, CBU plans for the grant funding to aid in assessing the school district’s needs while refining its own pathways for students pursuing STEM majors to seek teaching licensure. The grant will fund activities including the assessment of CBU’s undergraduate marketing practices; the creation of an Advisory Board of STEM educators; the development of a one-credit education course offered to STEM majors (which would also be a recruiting mechanism to draw students into a scholarship program); and the development of a module for CBU’s STEM summer bridge program for incoming STEM students that will introduce them to the idea of teaching early in their academic studies.

The study funded by the grant will be a collaborative effort between faculty members in the CBU School of Sciences and the Department of Education in the Rosa Deal School of Arts. Dr. Alex Happ, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, and Dr. Samatha Alperin, Professor of Education and Director of Teacher Education, are the principal investigators for the grant project.

“The School of Sciences and the Department of Education have a long history of working together to educate future STEM educators,” said Dr. James McGuffee, Dean of the School of Sciences and a Professor of Computer Science. “With this NSF grant, we look forward to continuing our collaboration as CBU works to meet the community needs for additional middle and high school STEM teachers.”

“The grant is specifically for non-Education majors,” Dr. Alperin explained. “It’s strictly for students majoring in Mathematics, Engineering, or the Sciences. They will be introduced to the educational system and receive an overview of practice and theories while, at the same time, being introduced to how their STEM majors apply in the educational field. The goal is to attract incoming freshman in math, science, or engineering who also might consider teaching as a co-major.”

If successful, the activities of the Noyce Capacity Building Grant will set the University up for a much bigger version of the grant. CBU plans to eventually apply for a Noyce Track 1 Award (up to $1.2M over five years) that would provide scholarships and stipends to its STEM students who intend to become teachers during the last two years of their undergraduate education.

“In short, we want our students to be aware of the great need for STEM educators in our area, and to realize how rewarding a career it can be,” Dr. Happ concluded. “This grant and future grants will allow us to further sweeten the deal with some hefty incentives.”