Marquette Wire

Noyce program gives STEM students a chance at teaching

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The Noyce Scholars program combines STEM majors and a unique co-op opportunity.

Students in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors are getting the opportunity to take their studies to the next level through the Marquette Noyce Scholar program.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the program aims to  involve co-operative education for STEM and middle-secondary education majors to gain teaching experience in middle and high school classrooms.

Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.000 or higher and a STEM GPA of 2.75 or higher to be involved in the program.

Barbara Silver-Thorn, the principal investigator for the grant and professor in the College of Engineering, said Marquette’s funding for the nationally recognized program began in July 2009. Since then, Noyce has generated more than $900,000 in support for student scholarships, summer internships and development of the teaching co-op program plus a STEM teacher seminar in the near future.

Silver-Thorn said bringing the Noyce program to campus involved the work of numerous faculty, including Kathleen Cepelka, former Associate Dean of the College of Education; Ruth Howes, retired professor and former chair of Physics; and Ellen Eckman, professor in the College of Education.

“I envisioned the Noyce Scholar STEM teacher preparation program and submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program,” Silver-Thorn said.

Marquette’s Noyce Scholar program is considered rare as it incorporates education classes on campus plus teaching initiatives at local schools like Carmen High School for Science and Technology in Milwaukee, Silver-Thorn said.

“This semester we are offering our second teaching co-op for our first cohort of scholars at the Milwaukee Academy of Science,” Silver-Thorn said. “These scholars will then complete their third teaching co-op (student teaching) in the fall.”

Some Noyce Scholar students like Thess Dobbs, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said that while the program is relatively new at Marquette, Noyce is a recognizable and prestigious name for resumes.

“I am receiving generous scholarship support to study what I love,” Dobbs said. “We are placed in intense co-ops and have opportunities for paid summer internships in a variety of STEM fields.”

Dobbs said that in exchange for each semester being paid through scholarship support, she must teach in a school for at least one year (usually totaling six years).

“The only ‘drawback’ is that I will be required to teach in a high-need school for several years, but I plan on teaching in an urban school anyway, so that’s not a sacrifice for me,” Dobbs said. “For me, it’s a win-win.”

Another Noyce scholar, Marlena Eanes, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said that she too is beyond grateful to receive the grant.

“It was different from field work in the College of Education because instead of going once or twice a week on my own, I was with two other scholars and we were in Carmen four days a week,” Eanes said. “I believe that this way I was able to get more experience in the classroom and in a school setting.”

Eanes said that besides the educational portion, the Noyce Scholar program has allowed her to participate in grander projects including a recent internship at Discovery World and the ability to develop curriculum for summer programs and instructional work. In addition, the Noyce Scholars received nine credits worth of classes through Marquette’s Equal Opportunity Program’s Project Based Learning, where they were able to do student teaching at Carmen High School.

Silver-Thorn said the Noyce Scholar program is open to STEM and middle-secondary education majors. All interested applicants should apply by March 1 of their sophomore year.

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