FORT WORTH, Texas—The University of North Texas Health Science Center has received $1.3 million from the National Science Foundation to place its graduate students into high school biology classrooms and provide local science teachers with additional development opportunities.
The three-year grant will provide funding for Project SCORE (Schools’ Cooperative Opportunities for Resources and Education), a partnership between the health science center and the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD).
As part of the partnership, students from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the health science center will serve as teaching fellows in the classrooms and FWISD science teachers will serve as mentors to them. Beginning this fall, the project will place eight graduate students into biology classrooms at four FWISD high schools. They will serve as resources for the teachers and as role models for the high school students. They will assist with science fair and research projects while receiving hands-on training as educators themselves.
“Many scientists trace their interest in science to an enthusiastic, knowledgeable science teacher who sparked a fascination for the field by bringing the subject to life in the classroom,” said Rustin Reeves, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and anatomy. A former high school biology teacher himself, Dr. Reeves serves as the director for Project SCORE. Victoria Rudick, PhD, and Robert Kaman, JD, PhD, serve as co-directors.
Another component of Project SCORE will be training and development workshops for local science teachers. These monthly workshops will expose teachers to new scientific concepts, biotechnology, and recent discoveries without taking them away from the classroom.
The health science center will also offer “Tools for Teaching Science,” a series of summer workshops in which the teachers and fellows will work together to create a plan of activities for the upcoming school year.
“We need more young people to enter science-related fields,” said Dr. Rudick, who is associate dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “We’re hopeful that Project SCORE can be part of the solution to the growing nationwide shortage of science teachers and researchers.”
Project SCORE is another component of the health science center’s ongoing efforts to encourage more students to enter science-related careers.
Last year, the institution earned national recognition as a Role Model Institution by Minority Access, Inc., a company working with the National Institutes of Health, and also received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The awards recognize the health science center’s extensive K-16 programs where students can gain information and experience about the biomedical sciences and research.
“Our outreach efforts contributed to an increase in African-American and Hispanic graduate students at the health science center while national enrollment figures of graduate students in science were declining,” said Robert Kaman, PhD, JD, assistant dean and director of the Office of Outreach.
The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences offers masters and doctoral degrees in the biomedical sciences, with disciplines in cell biology and genetics, biochemistry and molecular biology, biomedical sciences, biotechnology, integrative physiology, microbiology and immunology, neuroscience and pharmacology, forensic genetics, and clinical studies.
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