COLUMBIA — University of Missouri faculty received a $1.25 million science education grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) grant will allow middle school math and science teachers across the state to apply for resources for their classroom from the university, promoting students’ interests in these subjects.
Delinda van Garderen is a professor in the Department of Special Education at MU and will help oversee the grant program. She said it’s a win-win for the university and middle school science and math programs around Missouri.
“The majority of this grant is actually going directly to the teachers. Then the teachers in return are expected to take that to their classrooms, use that with their learners, and then help us understand how well that is or isn’t working,” she said.
Van Garderen said her department will be able to better support the teachers and the roles and responsibilities they have in teaching math, science and literacy.
The resources will involve a series of lessons that combine resources, such as short stories, video, art, podcasts, music and more. Researchers aim to help students improve their use of scientific argumentation.
Van Garderen said students in middle school are at a turning point in their education, when science and health issues are important to learn about.
“We’re targeting middle school because that’s when we think a lot of students start thinking about what are the things they’re interested in the future about doing,” she said.
The program will also target those with disabilities and students who come from a lower socioeconomic background.
“Our research has found this teaching approach helps all students, and particularly, those with disabilities,” she said. “As teachers, we need to help all students, including those who have diverse learning needs and who come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.”
The new grant builds upon the university’s existing SEPA grant, under which teachers reported successful improvements in students’ ability to understand texts and use scientific argumentation. Researchers found that students still struggled to analyze graphs, charts and tables often found in math textbooks.
According to van Garderen, middle school science and math teachers will be able to fill out an application for resources toward the end of the year.