NSF PR 99-12 - February 18, 1999
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Graduate Science, Math, Engineering & Technology
Students Can Become K-12 Teaching Fellows
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is unveiling
an innovative $7.5-million educational program that
will enable talented graduate students and advanced
undergraduates to serve as teaching fellows in K-12
science, mathematics and technology-based education.
"We cannot expect the task of science and math education
to be the responsibility solely of K-12 teachers while
scientists, engineers and graduate students remain
busy in their universities and laboratories. There
is no group of people that should feel more responsible
for science and math education in this nation than
our scientists and engineers and scientists- and engineers-to-be,"
NSF Director Rita Colwell said in announcing the program.
"Enlisting the knowledge and skills of graduate students
and advanced undergraduates who are working toward
science, mathematics, engineering and technology-related
degrees will be a positive step in improving K-12
learning," Luther S. Williams, NSF's assistant director
for education and human resources, said.
Piloted in FY 1999, the teaching fellows program was
formally proposed by Colwell as part of NSF's proposed
fiscal 2000 budget.
Williams said that "with sufficient training, graduate
students and advanced undergraduates can serve as
valuable resources for science and math content, as
well as for technology applications, in K-12 schools
and thereby assist in providing quality education."
Through this program, academic institutions offering
graduate degrees in science, mathematics, engineering
and technology fields are eligible to apply for two-
to three-year awards of $200,000 to $500,000 per year.
These institutions will be responsible for selecting
the teaching fellows.
NSF anticipates the program will improve communication
and teaching skills for the fellows, enrich learning
by K-12 students, and enhance professional development
of K-12 teachers. It should also strengthen partnerships
between institutions of higher education and local
"We have maintained in this country a vast, unsupportable
chasm between our elementary grades' system of science/math
education and our graduate education system -- all
without a rational foundation. It is time to begin
to make a connection between these systems. This NSF
program will `jump-start' this connectivity," explained
"The most important lesson that educators can learn
from our students' failures, as revealed in the TIMSS
[Third International Mathematics and Science Study]
achievement results, is that we must approach science
and mathematics education with new ideas and the courage
to see them through," said Williams. "This program
will help bring our nation's educational systems into
a full circle of accountability, with higher education
injecting new energy into K12 and K-12 positively
influencing higher education -- all while satiating
a desperate hunger for mutual responsibility between
all levels of science and mathematics education."
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