With a new grant from the National Science Foundation, UALR scholars will be able to make a major impact on early STEM education in Arkansas. The over $1 million grant supports the UALRTeach Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which is a collaboration between UALR, Henderson Middle School, UALR Children International, and the Museum of Discovery. The program will take a multi-pronged approach to tackling Arkansas’s shortage of science and mathematics teachers, particularly in high-need schools.
Led by Dr. Tony Hall and Dr. Gail Hughes, the program will benefit current and future STEM teachers, current and future middle school students, and research in the area of STEM teacher education. As an incentive to enter the field, scholarship funds will be offered to select highly qualified UALR junior and senior STEM majors who intend to earn their teaching licenses and teach in a high-need school for at least two years. Additionally, participants in the program will teach enhanced inquiry-based mathematics and science lessons to the students at Henderson Middle School, a high-needs school in Little Rock, developing their own skills while engaging young people with STEM concepts and activities.
The grant will also help launch the Noyce Internship Program. Participating interns, usually upcoming sophomores and juniors, will spend four weeks during the summer learning, leading educational presentations, tutoring, and more at Children International, the Museum of Discovery, and other partner sites. These positions will be paid, allowing students to support themselves while honing their teaching and professional skills.
Not only will teachers-in-training receive support, but, under the program, new STEM teachers will as well, with the opportunity to attend the biannual UALRTeach Professional Development days. Additionally, through observation and assessment, UALR scholars will be able to study the effects of experiential learning on STEM teachers-in-training—an area without much scholarly research.
Through these and other efforts, the program seeks to increase both the number and quality of STEM teachers in Arkansas’s schools, as well as the quality of future STEM teacher education. The program, beginning soon, will last for the next five years.