The National Science Foundation announced a $100 million campaign last week to improve the quality of science teaching.
The project is the foundation’s largest foray into science education since it financed curriculum programs in the era following the Soviet launch of Sputnik, 44 years ago ago this month, NSF Director Rita Colwell said in announcing the grants.
“By working with local school systems, this initiative will reshape the learning of thousands of students all over the country,” Ms. Colwell said in a written statement.
The independent federal agency, based in Arlington, Va., will make grants over the next five years to seven coalitions of universities, school districts, and nonprofit organizations to address several areas in which it says there is a need for an infusion, such as teaching algebra to minority students, using technology in science classrooms, and training people to produce science assessments.
Funding for prototype centers based at the University of Maryland College Park and Texas A&M University in College Station got the NSF’s campaign under way last year.
Under the program at the Maryland center, graduate school mathematicians are helping with school improvement programs in the Mid-Atlantic region. The 132,000-student Prince George’s County, Md., school district, which serves the university and the surrounding area, is a partner in the project.
Meanwhile, the Texas A&M center is working with that state’s 20 education service centers to expand the use of computers and other technologies in science classes.
The five new centers will be based at WestEd, a federal education laboratory in San Francisco; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; the Exploratorium, a San Francisco museum; and Montana State University-Bozeman.