COLUMBIA — Faculty at the University of Missouri have received a $1.25 million science education grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) grant will allow middle school math and science teachers across the state to request resources for their classroom from the university, furthering student interest in these subjects.
Delinda van Garderen is a professor in the Department of Special Education at MU and will help oversee the grant program. She said it’s a win-win for science and math programs at Missouri universities and colleges.
“The majority of this grant actually goes directly to teachers. Then the teachers in return are supposed to bring this into their classrooms, use it with their learners, and then help us understand how well it works or doesn’t work. “, she says.
Van Garderen said her department will be able to better support teachers and the roles and responsibilities they have in teaching math, science and literacy.
Resources will involve a series of lessons that combine resources, such as news, videos, art, podcasts, music and more. Researchers aim to help students improve their use of scientific argument.
Van Garderen said middle school students are at a turning point in their education, when it’s important to learn about science and health issues.
“We’re targeting middle school because that’s when we think a lot of students start thinking about things that interest them in the future,” she said.
The program will also target people with disabilities and students from a disadvantaged socio-economic background.
“Our research found that this teaching approach helps all students, and especially those with disabilities,” she said. “As teachers, we need to support all students, including those with diverse learning needs and who come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.”
The new grant builds on the university’s existing SEPA grant, where teachers have reported successful improvements in students’ ability to understand texts and use scientific argument. The researchers found that students still struggled to analyze graphs, charts and tables often found in math textbooks.
According to van Garderen, science and math teachers at the college will be able to complete a resource request towards the end of the year.