College's STEM Effort Wins $1.2M NSF Grant

By Kathrin Havrilla

The BEST Project funding will help STEEP graduates become well-prepared to teach middle- and high-school math in high-need schools in the US.
The BEST Project funding will help STEEP graduates become well-prepared to teach middle- and high-school math in high-need schools in the US.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the College of Engineering and School of Education (SED) a $1.2 million grant to establish the Bringing Engineers into STEM Teaching (BEST) Project. The grant will expand participation in the newly launched STEM Educator Engineer Program (STEEP), one of the first programs in the nation to enable undergraduates to obtain both an accredited Bachelor of Science degree in an engineering major and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree through SED in just five years.

The BEST Project will build on STEEP’s strong foundation, as well as that of the Noyce Scholars programs in SED. Graduates of STEEP will be inspirational educator-engineers licensed to teach middle- and high-school math and science in nearly every state in the nation. The BEST Project funding will support those in STEEP and other engineering professionals who desire to teach mathematics in high-need US schools.

Current national efforts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) focus largely on science and math, often because teachers do not have a background or knowledge base in technology and engineering.  Standardized tests, however, include sections on technology and engineering.

“We believe STEEP is an exceptional program that enables engineers to become certified and ready to teach math and science in one extra year,” said ENG Assistant Dean for Outreach & Diversity Gretchen Fougere. “Who better to help inspire and prepare our students than engineers with deep pedagogical training and a love for technology and the innovation process?

“The BEST project was designed with the formidable team of professors Suzanne Chapin and Leslie Dietiker in SED,” Fougere added. “It bolsters the College of Engineering mission to ensure a steady stream of STEM professionals moving from K-12 into college and subsequent careers. NSF’s endorsement will amplify our programs and enable engineers to change the world through education. We look forward to more valuable and enlightened STEEP partners.”

The BEST Project will primarily recruit engineers, including Inspiration Ambassadors enrolled in the Technology Innovation Scholars Program in ENG, as well as graduates of other engineering colleges nationwide and engineering professionals who wish to change careers and enter teaching. The BEST Project will prepare 37 new middle school or high school mathematics teachers over the five years of the project, and includes stipends toward tuition, paid internships and workshops that engage experienced and pre-service educators in engineering design and mathematics. Those funded by the BEST Project are required to teach in high-need schools for a specified number of years. Graduates will be well prepared to teach in these schools, including those with a significant number of teachers educating outside of their area of expertise, schools with a high teacher turnover and those with a large percentage of students living at low socio-economic levels.

STEEP students choose between math or science tracks, and curriculum sequencing for the two paths includes a variety of coursework in areas such as student teaching practica, classroom and behavior management, and teaching methods. Current BU engineering students interested in the BEST Project can learn more about STEEP on its website, or contact Fougere at gfougere@bu.edu for more information. Alumni of ENG and other schools should apply to the School of Education Master of Arts in Teaching program and specify their intent to apply to be an urban math educator.

 

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