September 4, 2018

Project EINSTEIN addresses need for more STEM educators

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Faculty in Purdue’s College of Education has received a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a project to train highly qualified K-12 STEM educators and provide financial support for Purdue STEM education students.

Project EINSTEIN: Excellence in STEM Teaching in Indiana through Integrating Engineering Practice and Design Principles is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Purdue University, Ivy Tech Community College and six Indiana high schools.

“The goal of the project is to increase the number and diversity of students who pursue a degree and a career in STEM teaching,” said Lynn Bryan, director of the Center for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of STEM (CATALYST) and a professor of science education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

“Over the next four years, we will graduate 32 secondary STEM teachers who have earned a bachelor’s degree with an integrated STEM concentration and know how to use engineering design in teaching mathematics and science in their classrooms.”

Students will receive tuition support from Project EINSTEIN through a forgivable loan. For each semester of tuition funding, the recipient agrees to teach one year in a high-need middle or high school. At the end of their teaching commitment, the participant will have no financial obligation.

Beyond the specialized integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concentration, the students will participate in a three-year induction program to support and retain these new STEM teachers in their first years of teaching.

“This grant is a home run on so many levels,” Bryan said. “Since teachers often earn less than other professions, student loan debt can put new teachers at a greater financial disadvantage than their peers who pursue other careers. This program provides financial respite as new teachers enter the workforce and start life after college. Additionally, new teachers are at risk to leave the profession early in their career, so Project EINSTEIN includes critical support for their professional growth and development.”

Project EINSTEIN is open to secondary STEM teaching majors (biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics, physics and engineering/technology) in their junior or senior year who have at least a 3.0 GPA. Interested Purdue teacher education students can apply for the scholarships online at www.education.purdue.edu/catalyst/scholarship-information/.

Other Purdue faculty participating in the project include Selcen Guzey, Jill Newton, Paul Asunda and Muhsin Menekse. Participating school districts are Carroll Consolidated School Corporation; Community Schools of Frankfort; Frontier Jr./Sr. High School; Tippecanoe School Corporation Middle Schools; and North Montgomery Community School Corporation. 

Media contact: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu 

Writer: Jennifer Jeffries, 765-494-5329, jcjeffries@purdue.edu

Sources: Lynn Bryan, 765-496-2859, labryan@purdue.edu

Tonya Agnew, 765-494-0568, tragnew@purdue.edu

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