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Nurturing a Love of Math, Sciences

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Experts are concerned that not enough teachers who can arouse passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in public school students are being produced by the United States, which endangers the country's ability to keep up with economic competitors. "We know that the quality of math and science teachers is the most influential single factor in determining whether or not a student will succeed or fail in these subjects," said President Barack Obama in an April 27 address to the National Academy of Sciences. "Yet, in high school, more than 20 percent of students in math and more than 60 percent of students in chemistry and physics are taught by teachers without expertise in these fields."

A strategy for addressing the STEM educator shortage involves a combination of sharper recruiting tactics buttressed by financial incentives, the establishment of streamlined programs for potential math and science teachers, and aggressive initiatives to make teaching careers more appealing to math and science professionals. Education officials and corporate leaders agree that the United States will suffer a dearth of future researchers, innovators, and engineers if fewer high school students are getting excited about STEM disciplines.

Some universities have started programs designed to step up their production of math and science teachers. One such effort is UTeach, a program that mixes aggressive recruitment of math and science majors, challenging courses, heavy fieldwork, mentoring by practicing teachers, and postgraduate support.

In July, a panel set up by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will unveil a plan to improve STEM education in the state, and one of its goals is a 300 percent increase in the number of STEM teachers produced by Maryland colleges and universities by 2015.

From The Baltimore Sun
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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