Grants & Awards

Dordt College Wins $1.2 Million to Educate Future STEM Teachers

Dordt College has landed a $1.2 million grant that aims to help encourage students interested in careers as STEM educators.

The private, Christian, liberal arts college will use $810,000 of the grant funds to provide scholarships for students with double majors in education and a STEM field. The rest will be used to recruit new students, according to a report on nwiowa.com, such as sending education and STEM faculty to area high schools to talk with students about STEM ed.

The grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. Noyce grants seek "to encourage talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science (including engineering and computer science) teachers," according to information on the NSF's site. "The program invites creative and innovative proposals that address the critical need for recruiting and preparing highly effective elementary and secondary science and mathematics teachers in high-need local educational agencies."

The award is "based on the history of strong science and STEM education, along with excellence in our education department," Nathan Tintle, director of research and scholarship at Dordt, told nwiowa.com. "Both of those programs have been highlighted and recognized for a long time. The opportunity we saw five years ago when we started ramping some of these efforts up was letting others know about that."

"I think what we've seen is that students interested in the STEM fields are frequently heading toward industry," Tintle added. "That's understandable, but this program through the National Science Foundation is to help these people look at being a high school, middle school or elementary teacher in the STEM fields. The scholarship money might help some students tip the scale in that direction."

In its proposal, Dordt focused on the fact that it's a rural school with rural students likely to go back and teach STEM in other rural schools, as well as their interest in becoming a model for other schools by writing about their STEM ed programs and presenting at conferences.

Laying the groundwork before submitting the proposal was key as well, according to Tintle.

"The first 12 to 18 months was about how we wanted to structure the program," he told nwiowa.com. "At that point, we didn't submit the application because we decided we weren't ready. We decided to wait and restructure our leadership team during that time. We really ramped up writing about it last spring and submitted the grant last September. It's a long process."

Tintle also said that working with the NSF in the past and delivering on previous grant goals helped to secure the funding.

More information is available at nwestiowa.com. Visit nsf.gov for more information about Noyce grants.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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