U.Va. science, math teacher
ed programs receive SCHEV awards
By Fariss Samarrai
a graduate student in astronomy, Ed Murphy loved volunteering
during open house nights at McCormick Observatory. He saw firsthand
how groups of children and adults loved learning about astronomy
and observing the stars through the 117-year-old McCormick telescope.
realized that public outreach and education can be linked, and
I enjoyed bringing them together, he said.
Murphy is an assistant professor of astronomy
at U.Va. and manager of the departments education and public
outreach program. Recently he was awarded nearly $56,000 from
the State Council of Higher
Education for Virginia for his project Space Science
for Teachers, a new two-week summer workshop for science
teachers who want to become better teachers of astronomy.
other U.Va. outreach education projects have been awarded SCHEV
grants as well. Steve Thornton, professor of physics, was awarded
more than $80,000 for his ongoing summer education project Producing
Certified High School Physics Teachers; and math professor
Loren Pitt was awarded more than $48,000 for the Mathematics
Teachers Leadership Project.
three projects will bring math and science teachers to U.Va. this
summer to learn more about teaching those subjects and preparing
their students to meet the Standards of Learning required by the
state. Several members of the Curry
School of Education also will serve as instructors for the
three programs. A fourth education project, funded at more than
$58,000, will be run at the College at Wise by faculty there.
grants are administered and issued through SCHEV and are funded
through the federal governments Eisenhower Professional
Development Program. The grants support projects that improve
the content knowledge and teaching skills of elementary and secondary
public school teachers in the core academic subject areas of mathematics
and science. Twenty-seven grants were issued this year totaling
nearly $1.3 million.
going for the multiplier effect, Murphy said of the summer
projects. We teach one teacher, and that teacher will teach
about 30 students each year for the rest of his or her career.
We can reach thousands of students this way.
teachers will study space science and teaching the subject for
two weeks this summer in Murphys program, co-instructed
with Randy Bell and Adrienne Gauthier of the Curry School and
Geary Albright, a teacher at Western Albemarle High School.
is a severe shortage of math and science teachers, said
Thornton. Our project is designed to help more teachers
to become certified physics teachers.
Middle school and high school teachers from around the Commonwealth
will come to U.Va. for four weeks this summer to learn about physics
and physics teaching from Thornton and his colleague Richard Lindgren.
the 1990s I gradually started spending most of my time in trying
to improve science education in Virginia and across the nation,
Thornton said. Teachers have a very difficult job, they
are not paid well enough, and I want to be a part of helping to
make their jobs better.
Loren Pitt is bringing 32 teachers to his department for a week
this summer to gain greater competence in teaching geometry. His
U.Va. co-instructor will be Maria Timmerman, an assistant professor
of mathematics education, as well as teachers from local schools.
about six years Ive been working with teachers at local
schools to help them with the problems of teaching geometry,
Pitt said. This is a pressing problem, and this new program
will help address it. Teachers always show great appreciation
for the help we give them at the University, and they make me
feel great about my work.
the help of U.Va faculty this summer, teachers also will be better
at their work.