Three professors have jointly received a three-year, $1.5 million
grant from the National Science Foundation for a program that will
match graduate students with working middle and high school teachers
to promote science and mathematics education and develop skills
that will help the graduate students become better scientists themselves.
Jay Justice, professor and chair of chemistry; Pat Marstellar, director
of the college Center for Science Education; and Preetha Ram, senior
lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in chemistry, will
direct a program matching up “collegial teams” of area
teachers and graduate students (and, soon, undergraduates) that
in turn will create teaching models focused on “big ideas”
in science and math.
Using problem-based learning (PBL) and investigative case-based
learning (ICBL), the program hopes to use real-world applications
as a way to teach the basics of science to students, Marstellar
“Instead of focusing on minutia, the students will learn detail
through concepts,” Marstellar said. “So if you’re
going to learn about chemistry, you might learn through looking
at water quality issues, for example.”
Beginning this summer, 10 graduate students will be paired with
teachers from four in-town school districts (DeKalb, Fulton, Atlanta
Participation in a summer institute will familiarize the graduate
students with urban education, and they also will receive instruction
in PBL and ICBL pedagogy. Then, in the fall, the pairs will put
their ideas into practice at the teachers’ respective schools.
“Our work with PBL and ICBL has demonstrated it is possible
to get undergraduate students excited about learning science,”
Ram said. “We hope to bring that same engagement and excitement
into middle and high school classrooms.”
Graduate students will receive $21,400 for a one-year commitment,
which requires spending 10 hours per week with teachers and in planning
and preparation. Teachers selected to participate will receive compensation
for the summer institute and for mentoring and monitoring the graduate
students. Undergraduates, who Marstellar said will be incorporated
into the program after it gets off the ground, also will receive
“This is an exciting opportunity for graduate students and
complements their professional development opportunities in undergraduate
education,” Justice said.
“Participating graduate students will develop skills in teamwork
required for interdisciplinary science collaboration that leads
to success in modern scientific research,” Marstellar said.
“They also will learn to communicate science effectively to
a broader audience.”
Interested graduate and undergraduate students should contact Marstellar
or Ram at email@example.com.