Grad students will work with teachers to help improve school science and technology curriculums
The National Science Foundation has awarded about $38 million in three-year
grants for graduate students in science, math, engineering and technology
to work with teachers to improve schools' science and technology curriculums.
This was the second year of the NSF program, which expects to open competition
this fall for another 20 grants averaging $1.5 million each.
"We believe — and we have seen this — that there is a terrific excitement
involved in exposing kids in the classroom to authentic science, particularly
if they are also given the tools for independent query," said Eric Jakobsson,
a senior research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications
(NCSA) in Champaign, Ill. Jakobsson is also a co-principal investigator
of a project that aims to get K-12 schools the same bioinformatics and computational
chemistry tools that university researchers use.
"When we give kids the ability to participate in real query, it makes
a huge difference in their attitude about school and about life in general,"
The NCSA was one of the recent recipients of an NSF grant, along with
its National Computational Science Alliance partners at the University of
Alabama campuses at Huntsville and Birmingham.
There historically has been little overlap between pre-college education
and the research community, Jakobsson said. The philosophy behind the NSF
program is the potential benefit to be gained by involving researchers in
science education, particularly at a time when K-12 science education is
under so much scrutiny in the United States.
Another benefit is that the graduate students will improve their communication
skills through interaction with students and teachers.
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.
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