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Carthage awarded $1.2 million Noyce Grant to recruit STEM teachers

March 28, 2017

The National Science Foundation has awarded Carthage about $1.2 million to recruit strong STEM students to fill gaps in the high school teaching field.

With this grant from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, Carthage can provide partial scholarships for up to 26 students over the next five years. The program is open to enrolled students majoring in biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics.

During J-Term 2016, Carthage students taught Harborside students about the structure of DNA.During J-Term 2016, Carthage students taught Harborside students about the structure of DNA.It addresses a definite need. A U.S. Department of Education report shows an acute shortage of high school teachers in mathematics and the sciences throughout Wisconsin and much of the Midwest.

“For a society that’s so completely dependent on math and science, attending to the quality of that education is absolutely essential,” said Professor Julie Dahlstrom, chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department and co-director of the Carthage Noyce Scholarship program.

Selected students agree to complete either a secondary education minor or the Accelerated Certification for Teachers program. Each participant can receive up to two years of scholarship support, rising from $16,000 to $20,000 per year over the life of the grant.

For each year of funding, a student commits to two years of teaching in a high-need school. Partnering with schools in the Kenosha Unified district, Carthage aims to equip STEM teachers for success in urban schools throughout the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor.

In addition to the course sequence, scholarship recipients will complete a math or science project through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). They’ll also become part of a community of practice, with networking events, formal mentoring, and retreats.

The NSF funding provides a dual benefit. It offers stipends for existing high school teachers to do authentic research via the SURE program, deepening their subject knowledge in the process.

During J-Term 2017, Carthage students helped students from Harborside Academy learn about the physics of curling.During J-Term 2017, Carthage students helped students from Harborside Academy learn about the physics of curling.STEM and education professors jointly designed the Carthage Noyce Scholarship program. While it’s natural to steer top STEM students toward graduate school, Prof. Dahlstrom makes the case that science and math faculty also must promote secondary teaching as a desirable and fulfilling career.

She likens it to a farmer’s long-term mindset: “You hold back some of the seeds from the healthiest crop to ensure a good crop next year.”

Carthage also will expand its slate of recruiting events targeting freshmen and sophomores, which began under an earlier $300,000 grant. Those include presentations on innovative science teaching, a STEM teaching immersion during January Term, and one-credit seminars offering field experience in classrooms.

Faculty members expect most interested students to apply for the scholarships during their sophomore or junior years. Applications for 2017 must be submitted by April 13, and applicants should receive notice of a decision by May 1.