$1.2 million offered to future STEM teachers

The National Science Foundation recently awarded Geneseo with a five-year, $1.2 million grant that will provide scholarships to future science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers. The award, which is Geneseo’s largest ever single grant, will benefit students planning to teach physics or other STEM disciplines in struggling high schools after obtaining a New York State education degree. The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will award substantial scholarships to 35 STEM majors at Geneseo. The program mainly seeks to attract Geneseo physics majors into the education field.

“The Geneseo grant is especially focused on physics teaching, but math and other science majors can participate also,” program director and distinguished teaching professor of physics Kurt Fletcher said. Each student awarded the scholarship will receive up to two years of support during their junior and senior years, with physics majors receiving $12,000 per year and non-physics majors receiving $10,000 scholarships.

Internships and scholarship support will also be provided for students in the STEM field who plan on teaching their subjects at a high school level after they graduate.

Since there is a shortage of physics teachers in underserved high schools compared to other subjects such as English and history, the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program was designed in an effort to enable those interested in teaching physics to meet their full potential.

The program also seeks to attract Geneseo physics majors into the education field by providing them with an incentive to enter a fulfilling career path.

“The primary objectives of the Noyce Scholarship program is to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers,” Fletcher said. “We’re going to offer early teaching experiences for undergraduates to get a taste of what teaching is like early in their academic careers, when it is still possible for them to enter the certification process through our School of Education.”

Scholars commit to teach two years as a mathematics or science teacher in an underserved school district for each year of scholarship support.

The award program––with a period extending to Aug. 31, 2019––consists of several different components. The Build-it, Leave-it, Teach-it program enables physics majors to design and construct physics-related demonstrations as well as prepare lessons and present them to students at local high schools. They are also encouraged to donate their physics equipment to the participating teacher’s classroom.

The second component is a summer program that includes a field school and an internship, geared to provide students with their first teaching experiences. The students will also be mentored by physics teachers and will attend a national conference of STEM education.

In addition to providing a stipend for the summer internship and tuition support for the summer physics teacher field school, the grant provides travel support for scholars, funds for materials and supplies for classroom demonstrations, and other necessities.

Fletcher has high hopes for the scholarship program.

“I hope that science and math majors who have the talent and expertise to become outstanding teachers will be encouraged to enter the teaching profession,” he said.