Texas Tech Receives $2.7 million Grant From National Science Foundation
April 23, 2008
Professors hope to bridge gap for scientific application of math for area schoolchildren.
Texas Tech University will receive $2.7 million from the National Science Foundation
to help area schoolchildren understand the connection between math and science.
The $2.7 million GK-12 grant, one of 26 awarded nationally, will pay for the Building
Bridges: Integrating Math, Science, and Engineering Education on the South Plains
program. This initiative seeks to bridge the importance of learning math for its practical
application in science for children in elementary through high school.
"This program stems from a need we see and saw years ago," said Dominick Casadonte,
chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and lead investigator for
the program. "When kids in junior high and high school learn math, they always ask,
‘what do I need this for?’ Kids don’t know how to apply math to science, because they’re
two very separate things taught apart from each other. We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be
neat to show them how math and science really work together?’"
Texas Tech’s program will join about 150 across the country, Casadonte said. However,
unlike other programs, Texas Tech’s program includes a multidisciplinary approach
to teaching math, science and engineering.
The money will provide $30,000 stipends for eight to 10 graduate students per year
in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines, in exchange
for participation in two summer institutes and 15 hours per week service working with
area high school math and science teachers.
These graduate students will work with math and science teachers from area schools
during the summer to develop curriculum, then apply these lessons next year. The graduate
students will improve their abilities in communicating their research interests and
skills to a broad audience and will learn pedagogical skills from their interactions
with the teachers.
As an outreach mathematician working with teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade,
assistant professor of mathematics Jerry Dwyer said he had considered the National
Science Foundation’s GK-12 Grant Program to be an ideal way to create a new generation
of faculty with greater expertise in outreach.
"What I see are students who do not see the usefulness of mathematics at all," Dwyer
said. "They say ‘when will we ever use this?’ I think that integrated math-science
modules serve a dual purpose. They show that math is useful and they help to motivate
students to study math. The project team has a nice interdisciplinary balance. The
teachers will bring experience that will truly benefit the graduate students. The
students will find enjoyment in the newly developed modules."
The multidisciplinary principal investigator team includes Casadonte from the Department
of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Dwyer from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics,
Mary Baker from the Department of Electrical Engineering, Jennifer Wilhelm from the
College of Education, and Kim Perry from Lubbock Independent School District.
CONTACT: Dominick Casadonte, chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry,
Texas Tech University, (806) 742-1832, or email@example.com, Jerry Dwyer,
assistant professor of mathematics, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, (806)
742-2580 ext. 230, or firstname.lastname@example.org