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Fort Hays gets $1.1M science grant





Prospective math and science teachers can give a teaching career a test run before making a long-term commitment thanks to a grant received by Fort Hays State University.

FHSU has received a $1.1 million grant from the Noyce Foundation through the National Science Foundation to support and encourage math and science teacher education.

The grant is the result of faculty and staff working together.

"A whole team worked together to make this grant possible," FHSU President Edward H. Hammond said Wednesday morning.

The Southwest Plains Regional Service Center, Sublette, is a collaborating agency on the grant.

"For a nation to remain world ready, it must have a workforce trained in science, technology, engineering and math education," Hammond said. "That requires qualified teachers."

The Noyce grant will have two initiatives -- scholarships and summer activities for potential students in science and math.

Beginning with the 2013 fall semester, six $12,000 scholarships will be available for math and science students.

"We want to get them into the field, (and) keep them in the field," said Bill Weber, assistant professor of math and computer science, who will direct the scholarship program. "For every year they get a scholarship, they have to teach in a high needs (area) for two years."

To ensure they're highly qualified for teaching in a rural setting, students will get field experience in rural settings and training to teach advanced placement courses and to act as teacher leaders. Students also can get funds for research and to attend conferences.

Mentoring and support is available from the Southwest Service Center.

Paul Adams, FHSU Anschutz professor of education and physics professor, will direct the summer scholars segment.

That program will give current and prospective students, including community college students considering Fort Hays, a chance to find out what it's like to be a teacher.

Up to six students per summer for the next four summers could receive $2,400 for six weeks of work in the summer camps. The summer programs include girls' math and science camp, art and science camp, robotics camp, and water-park math camp.

Students must have completed their freshman year and be a science, technology, engineering or math major, or consider being one.

"If you aren't sure about teaching, we're going to provide you a chance, pay you to have that experience as a teacher, and look at what it means about this career," Adams said. "We want them here because we have some of the best science and math programs in the state, and this is our chance to not only showcase those, but choose from those the best teachers we can to support the state of Kansas."

Gavin Buffington, FHSU physics department chairman, is the Noyce grant and program administrator.

Information and applications are available at www.fhsu.edu/smei.