The USF College of Education recently received a $1 million grant to put toward science education in K-12 schools throughout the Tampa Bay area.
The grant comes from Wipro Limited, an international company based in India, which chose USF along with other American campuses such as the University of Massachusetts Boston and Montclair State University to participate in new teaching programs, according to the Wipro Limited website. These programs include more detailed lesson planning and research-based science activities.
Dr. Allan Feldman, a professor of science education at USF and one of those responsible for bringing the grant to campus, said he is pleased with the improvements the money is expected to bring.
“The overall goal is to improve science education within the school districts involved,” Feldman said. “The improvement of science teaching, improving the knowledge and skills of the people who teach science, and equip them with the skills to be teachers who help other teachers through their practice.”
Tampa Bay school districts involved with the grant are Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, according to Feldman.
Feldman said a major focus will be ensuring there is a diverse group of students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educations.
The $1 million going toward science education will be evenly spread over the next four years, according to Feldman.
“We have a very clear budget,” Feldman said. “Most of the money is being used to support the teachers. They'll be enrolled in a USF graduate course in science education and they’ll also be receiving money for supplies and materials to support the innovative work that they’ll be doing. The money will support the teachers for the amount of time that they’re putting into this. Each teacher will be putting in about 250 hours worth of work across two years.”
Dr. Karl Jung, Assistant Professor of Science Education K-8 in the Department of Teaching and Learning, helped bring the grant to campus by helping pass it through the selection phase.
As the grant takes effect, different cohorts of teachers will be retrained to cater to new skills needed in the classroom, such as having a more science-based curriculum and a knowledgeable staff that can teach the information to students.
After creating the first cohort of teachers, work will begin in August, according to Jung. The teachers will work with USF staff over the next two years as the project itself runs for the next four school years.
Each group will feature teachers of difficult educational experiences, according to Feldman.
“It will be a total of three cohorts of teachers and each cohort will have 20 teachers,” Feldman said. “Each cohort will have a mix of elementary, middle and high school teachers.”
Teachers will receive new instructions to better suit their classrooms, according to Feldman.
“We’re one of many sites around the country receiving part of this grant,” Feldman said. “We feel very lucky to have such an opportunity to not only help the school districts involved, but also create better educators through the teacher’s new workshops they’ll be involved in.”