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Federal Agency Funds STEM Project for Next Five Years

Funding will enable 18 more Noyce scholars to become STEM instructors

Sacred Heart University has received a grant of nearly $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. SHU will apply the grant to the preparation of educators to teach elementary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

This is SHU’s second NSF Noyce grant for students who intend to teach elementary STEM and the fourth one SHU has received. The grants total over 5.2 million dollars, enabling SHU to provide scholarships for 72 teachers who have, or will, enter as new teachers with a specialization in the area of STEM.

The University’s Noyce team comprises Mark Beekey, acting dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS); Andrew Lazowski, associate professor of mathematics; Bonnie Maur, program co-director of sixth-year degree in STEAM; and Kristin Rainville, associate professor of education. They will apply part of the grant to expanding the recruitment of scholars at Housatonic Community College. 

The project entails mentorships for the Noyce scholars, interdisciplinary STEM instruction and intercultural competencies. All the Noyce scholars are STEM majors and once they graduate from SHU and become elementary teachers, they will bring their rich skills and knowledge of STEM into classroom instruction. Funding will be distributed over five years, through March 31, 2027.

Congress founded the NSF in 1950 to advance science, health, prosperity and welfare in the U.S. and national defense, according to the agency’s website. The NSF also funds approximately 25% of all federally supported, basic research conducted at America’s colleges and universities.

The Noyce scholarship program works with higher-education institutions to provide funding through scholarships, stipends and research. The program’s goal is to prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers, aiming to increase the number of educators at that level who have knowledge of STEM content and teach in high-need schools districts.

Noyce scholars receive financial support in their junior, senior and graduate years as they pursue certification as elementary school teachers with a bachelor of science degree in STEM.

“Our NSF Noyce team is thrilled to be able to support an additional 18 Noyce scholars to become STEM-prepared elementary teachers,” Rainville said.

Noyce scholars work in classrooms with STEM mentors during their junior and senior years in Ansonia, Stratford and Bridgeport school districts, which are partners with SHU. They will take a STEM education seminar each semester in their junior and senior years that focuses on specific topics, such as culturally responsive STEM pedagogy, understanding the interdisciplinary connections across STEM fields, grant writing and creating and fostering STEM identities in children. Each year, students will work toward intercultural competencies that are critical as educators. Woven through the program is a focus on developing intercultural competencies, which prepares scholars to create STEM classrooms that are culturally sustaining, inclusive of diverse points of view and are built on equity. The grant also provides the opportunity for scholars to participate in regional and national STEM conferences, often as co-presenters with their professors. 

In addition to scholarship money, Noyce scholars have the opportunity, prior to their acceptances, to complete a two-week summer experience in a STEM-focused nonprofit to learn what STEM teaching is about. This helps solidify the scholars’ desires to become STEM- prepared elementary teachers. The scholarship also will pay for membership to professional societies and organizations, enable them to travel to regional and national conferences and pay them for a six-week educational experience between their junior and senior years through a stipend.

“I’m so proud of our students and what they have accomplished through this program, and I am so glad we are able to offer it to them,” Maur said.

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