For years, there has been a growing sentiment among employers and professional educators alike that the United States needs to prepare more individuals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, collectively referred to as STEM. By participating in the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, the University is hoping to help that cause by turning out more educators specifically suited to teach both mathematics and physics.
“The need for physics educators is going up, but the projected number of qualified teachers will not meet the growing demand,” said John Nash, project manager for Truman’s Noyce program.
The Noyce program covers the cost of tuition for participating students. To be eligible, students must be a junior or senior double majoring in mathematics and physics, and they must participate in Truman’s Master of Arts in Education program upon graduation.
By preparing more teachers with backgrounds in STEM disciplines, the Noyce program will eventually help produce more Americans with in-demand skills. For the Truman students planning to teach after participating in the program, there also will be some immediate dividends.
“At a national level, the goal is to improve STEM teachers and teaching in order to make America more competitive in those fields,” Nash said. “Being dually certified to teach math and physics will make our graduates much more marketable.”
Truman’s participation in the Noyce program is funded through a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant. After establishing a partnership in 2013, the University sponsored its first scholars in fall 2014, with the hope of producing 20 secondary education teachers during its initial five-year phase.
The program is already yielding benefits for its scholars. Truman Noyce students have been able to attend conferences and professional development workshops. Student Matt Evers secured a summer internship through the California State University’s STEM Teacher and Research, or STAR program. He was assigned to a NASA lab where he worked under a mentor.
“The Noyce scholarship affords me the opportunity to build my career early,” Evers said. “Through Noyce, I had the opportunity to intern at NASA in the summer of 2015. It was an experience that many teacher-bound students never receive. Above all, it was an opportunity to learn something new while focusing on how to teach what I learned to a future class. The Noyce scholarship not only allows me to focus on my work, but also provides powerful networking for future teachers.”