Niagara University professors Dr. Maritza Branker, associate professor of mathematics, and Dr. Caitlin Riegel, assistant professor of education, have been awarded a $100,000 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship Program to expand STEM education pathways for secondary teachers in high-need school districts.

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The project, a collaboration between the university’s colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education, is designed to meet the growing need for secondary STEM teachers by developing and revising STEM curricula to prepare students for teacher certification in high-demand areas within the field, such as computer science, physics, and earth science. Through partnerships with the Buffalo and Niagara Falls City School Districts, the project also aims to enhance diversity and inclusive pedagogy in the undergraduate STEM courses.

“We are focused on giving STEM majors the option of a teaching career because there's a shortage of qualified teachers in the area, and STEM majors rarely consider teaching as an option,” Dr. Branker said. “It's also extremely useful for students looking for a second teachable area, which is required of our Canadian students who are planning to teach in Canada.” 

NSF's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program supports talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers and experienced, exemplary K-12 teachers to become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. It also supports research on the effectiveness and retention of K-12 STEM teachers in high-need school districts.