Pacific receives $800K grant for STEM program
Master in teaching program, based at Woodburn campus, combines STEM education with bilingual instruction
Pacific University has received a highly competitive $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to further develop a bilingual teaching program that is closely tied to its campus in Woodburn.
Known as ELSTEM, Pacifics program is a specially designed English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) educators.
The project is a collaboration of Pacifics Colleges of Education and Arts & Sciences, the Woodburn School District, the TeachOregon Consortium and the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership.
With the focus of the school district on bilingualism, Woodburn is really a leader in that,?said Kevin Carr, a Pacific science professor as well as director of the Woodburn campus and lead investigator of the grant program. This is a place to train educators to teach kids for whom English is a second language. Theyre going to get a lot of exposure to what they wouldnt in other districts.
The grant from the National Science Foundation is part of what Carr called phase two of funding for the Robert Noyce Scholarship Teacher Program, named after Intel co-founder Robert Noyce.
According to the foundations website, the goal of the Noyce program is to provide scholarships, stipends and programmatic support to colleges and universities to recruit STEM majors and prepare professionals to become K-12 teachers.
Carr said the first round of Noyce funding helped enable Pacific to open its Woodburn campus. Pacific was one of only eight institutions (out of the first phases 60) to receive additional funding in the second round.
Only around 10 percent of phase one institutions get picked for phase two, Carr said. It basically means NSF is now recognizing us as having a national-level program.
The Noyce scholars, who are selected by a local scholarship committee based on merit, financial need and other factors, will receive instruction and training through the Master of Arts in STEM Teaching and English Language Learning degree program, based at Pacifics Woodburn campus.
Carr said the grant from NSF, combined with other funding from the Department of Education, will provide up to two years of Noyce Scholarship support for 40 STEM teaching candidates, who in exchange, agree to two years of service in a high-needs school district for each year of scholarship support.
Carr said the approximately $21,000 scholarships will not entirely cover the cost of the masters program, but it will defray the expense significantly.
Its a major off-set,?he said. Its far more scholarship money than is typical for becoming a teacher.
Grant funding for the Pacific ELSTEM will be allocated over a five-year period, beginning this month. Carr said the ultimate goal of both the NSF funding and Pacific is to create a STEM teaching program that is sustainable beyond the grants.
For more information about the university, visit www.pacificu.edu. For more information about the Noyce scholarship, visit nsfnoyce.org.