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Ed. technology researcher lands record five NSF grants

Jan. 26 Update: NSF announces fifth grant, $1.2 million, for Dr. Pasha Antonenko to lead UF team on 3-D paleontology technology project.

Pasha Antonenko

Dr. Pasha Antonenko in his Norman Hall office.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Pasha Antonenko, an associate professor of educational technology, has set a new standard at the University of Florida College of Education, scoring five research grants from the National Science Foundation — all in the same 2015 funding cycle.

“You don’t expect all of them to hit,” Antonenko said. “You are lucky if one grant proposal is funded because acceptance rates are so low.”

Thomasenia Adams, associate dean of educational research, said five NSF awards sets a single season record for grants awarded to a College of Education faculty researcher.

“Dr. Antonenko has blazed the trail we have not seen before,” Adams said.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency, created by Congress in 1950, that funds nearly one-fourth of all basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. It’s the only federal agency that supports all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for the medical sciences.

Even more impressive than the number of NSF grants Antonenko received may be the variety and importance of the topics to be addressed in the resulting studies.

Antonenko’s five NSF awards total $4.1 million and will fund novel research projects using a wide-range of technologies in learning applications, including 3-D scanners and printers to study prehistoric bones, drones to study construction projects, and computerized simulations to study the human body’s reactions to a wide-range of stimuli.

He specializes in exploring the promise and problems of educational technology, including human-computer interaction and the design of learning environments.

The Ukrainian-born scholar will work with dozens of collaborators across the country, including researchers from fields as varied as construction engineering and paleontology and from institutions from Arizona to Massachusetts, as well as the University of Florida.

Antonenko is principal investigator on three of the NSF grants and co-principal investigator on two, one of which is led by UF’s David Julian, associate professor of biology, and the other by Emily Sessa, UF assistant professor of biology.

Below is a rundown of the NSF projects Antonenko will be working on.

Creating an evolutionary history of earth’s oldest plants: a $1.8 million, four-year project. With Sessa as principal investigator, the research team is developing a history of the evolution of flagellate plants — the oldest known land-based fauna to ever have existed, such as ferns. Other co-principal investigators are UF biology scholars Gordon Burleigh, Stuart McDaniel and Christine Davis. Antonenko’s role is to lead the development of an online application, named Voyager, to allow university students to explore a massive database in classrooms and promote evidence-based teaching practices. Antonenko will measure the effectiveness of the learning by conducting tests, including using electroencephalograms (EEGs), which measure the electrical activity in the brain of students to determine how well they are learning.

• STEM teaching using 3-D scanners and printersThis three-year, $1.2 million project will allow middle- and high-school students to study and scan bones in three dimensions, and upload them to virtual collections that scientists can access worldwide and reproduce using 3-D printers. Antonenko said the team is seeking to address an ongoing problem in 21st century education: how to integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lessons across multiple disciplines.

• How community college students learn using multimedia: a three-year,$765,000 effort. The use of multimedia resources in STEM education has undergone remarkable growth in recent years. The problem: Most all research on the effectiveness of these tools has been performed on high-achieving students at elite universities. This study will look at how effective these tools are among more diverse community college students, which now constitute nearly 50 percent of the population of higher education students. Co-principal investigators from UF are education technology faculty researchers Carole Beal (who also heads UF’s new Online Learning Institute) and Kara Dawson, and Andreas Keil, associate professor of psychology.

Creating an application to teach human physiology: a two-year, $247,129 project. Pre-med and other university students studying human physiology will use a new computer-based tool, called HumMod, to find out how a particular variable will affect a person’s health. For example, if a 50-year-old man were exposed to a certain level of carbon monoxide, how would that affect his cardiovascular, respiratory, neural and other processes? This study, led by UF’s Julian, allows for research of more than 6,000 variables to predict physiological responses.

• Using drones to study construction and engineering projects: This one-year, $58,148, pilot trial will use drones equipped with video cameras so students can view structures that are under construction. It seeks to address the problem in construction engineering and management courses of how to show students the myriad ways to build increasingly complex projects in a variety of scenarios, such as on all manner of construction sites. It’s not practical for students to take field trips to see these projects. “Cyber-Eye” will allow them to view drone-shot videos and establish a case library to see how to tackle real-world construction issues.

With this, as with as all his projects, Antonenko is looking to solve problems by using new ways of teaching and learning.

“In essence, all of the projects are about my core research, which really is understanding learning from different perspectives,” he said.

     SOURCE: Pasha Antonenko, UF College of Education; 352-273-4176;
     WRITER: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449;
     MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;

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UF precollegiate center keeps teachers up to date on bioscience technologies


“It is the best thing that ever happened to me as a teacher.”

— Kathy Savage
Oviedo High bioscience teacher

MOST OF THE TIME they are the teachers.

Not this time.

Dozens of high school teachers from across Florida returned to the classroom as part of an innovative University of Florida program to teach teachers the latest biomedical science and technologies, and to spark interest in bioscience careers among high schoolers.

Kathy Savage participates in a laboratory exercise during the summer program with Houda Darwiche, a post doctoral fellow with the Center for Precollegiate Education and Training.

Kathy Savage participates in a laboratory exercise during the summer program with Houda Darwiche, a post doctoral fellow with the Center for Precollegiate Education and Training.

Secondary science teachers Wendy Vidor and Carlene Rogers get first-hand training in UF laboratories that they can pass on to their students

Secondary science teachers Wendy Vidor and Carlene Rogers get first-hand training in UF laboratories. Vidor, a UF doctoral student in horticulture science, teaches agricultural biotechnology and marine science at Matanzas High in Palm Coast; Rogers teaches AP biology and honors anatomy and physiology at Wekiva High in Apopka.

More than 100 high school teachers have participated in the program since it was launched in 2010.

More than 100 high school teachers have participated in the program since it was launched in 2010.

The idea: You can’t teach what you don’t know, and you know best when you learn firsthand.

“It is the best thing that ever happened to me as a teacher,” said Kathy Savage, a bioscience teacher at Oviedo High School in Oviedo who created a bioscience curriculum working with researchers on UF’s campus.

CPET is the University of Florida’s “umbrella” program and conduit for the transfer of science and technology to public school and community college teachers, students and the public-at-large.

“Our ultimate goal is to improve the teachers’ content knowledge,” said Julie Bokor, assistant director of CPET and a doctoral candidate in curriculum and instruction at UF’s College of Education.

Key Elements

Known as Biomedical Explorations: Bench to Bedside, the program includes four key elements.

  • First, the high school teachers spend two weeks during the summer on UF’s campus where they conduct experiments and learn all manner of lab techniques and tools, such as applying technology to make copies of DNA, a method of diagnosing diseases, and identifying bacteria and viruses.
  • Next, they develop lesson plans and incorporate these into their teaching during the school year.
  • At year-end, they report their findings and disseminate the lessons so other teachers can use and help refine them.
  • Finally, selected research fellows return to campus in subsequent summers and scatter across UF’s campus to work closely with professors in labs to more fully develop curricula.

To sum it up: UF professors transfer research and techniques to secondary teachers and these teachers translate this knowledge into lessons that students can best understand.

“It’s a professional learning cycle,” said Kent Crippen, an associate professor of STEM education in COE’s School of Teaching and Learning.

Applying Lessons Learned

Importantly, participating teachers aren’t set adrift after the initial summer camp: They receive continued support from CPET staff and professors.

A good example is Savage, who had taught chemistry for 17 years when she was tapped to create a bioscience program at her school. She was a fish out of water.

“The equipment and procedures and lab techniques weren’t around when I was in school,” Savage said. “It’s a little intimidating doing those kinds of experiments yourself when you have to teach your students.”

After participating in the inaugural cohort in 2010, she has since returned to campus for three weeks every summer to work closely with UF professors and post-doctorate scholars in UF labs. They have helped her design lesson plans, taught her to use science equipment that had been gathering dust at her school, corresponded to answer her questions via email and even visited her classroom to help conduct experiments.

“You never feel afraid to try something new and jump in because you know someone has your back,” she said.

Another example: Orlando Edgewater High biology teacher Jessica Mahoney and fellow CPET alumna Jennifer Broo worked with UF Associate Professor of Entomology Daniel Hahn to create lessons on the interrelated concepts of climate change and evolution.

Students conducted experiments on live fruit flies provided by the university’s Department of Entomology to determine which strains were most vulnerable to climate change based on their recovery from a chill-induced coma.

In previous summers, these teachers teamed to develop two other curricula: one involving the cell cycle and cancer and another exploring the evolution of horses.

All told, 105 high school teachers who have participated in the program are now bringing their new skills to their own classrooms, including 22 in the 2015-2016 school year as part of a second phase of the program.

Second Phase

The UF Bench to Bedside program recently received a two-year $522,698 follow-up grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand the dissemination of the new high school science curricula.

Crippen, a co-principal investigator of this phase-two project, is helping to widely circulate the lessons by training teachers to use a powerful open-source portal funded by National Science Foundation. This online repository is part of the NSF Digital Library and allows instructors to submit, download, collaborate, and manage the copyright of lesson plans and other teaching resources they have created for the program.

CPET, which is housed in the Office of the Provost, has a long history of close collaboration with the College of Education. Education Associate Dean Tom Dana initiated a course offering for the Bench to Bedside program so teachers completing the work receive three hours of graduate credit. In another program, CPET is supporting Rose Pringle, associate professor of science education, and P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School Director Lynda Hayes on a $5 million National Science Foundation grant known as U-FUTuRES (University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science) to train middle school science teacher-leaders to transform science teaching and learning. CPET Director Mary Jo Koroly is co-principal investigator on the project to facilitate science enrichment activities on campus.

Sharing lessons – and the lessons learned – is a key element of all this professional development work.

“Ultimately, what we want is for our teachers to get regional, state and even national recognition so they can develop professionally,” Bokor said. “By moving to the next level they get to share this great research.”

    SourceJulie Bokor, CPET, 352-392-2310
    SourceKent Crippen, College of Education associate professor of STEM Education, 352-273-4222
    WriterCharles Boisseau, UF COE News & Communications, 352-392-4449

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NSF fellowship is just the latest achievement for UFTeach alum Xavier Monroe

Monroe Xavier3Xavier J. Monroe, a 2013 UF graduate, belongs on a UFTeach student recruitment poster.

And that’s even before he was awarded a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship in STEM education and learning research recently from the National Science Foundation.

While Monroe was still a UF undergraduate double-majoring in civil engineering and history, and also minoring in African Studies, the College of Education in 2011 enrolled him in yet another degree program–its new UFTeach mathematics education minor.

For someone with Monroe’s drive, what’s one more degree program, right?

The UFTeach minor degree programs in math or science education together are one of the pillars of the college’s STEM education reform strategy. The goal of UFTeach is to enlist top science, technology, engineering and math majors and prepare them to teach effectively in one of those vital STEM disciplines at the middle or high school grade levels.

Monroe personifies what UFTeach is all about. After simultaneously earning all four UF degrees—the two majors and both minors, the east Gainesville native and former Florida Academic Scholar went on to obtain his master’s in educational leadership and policy a year later from the University of Michigan.

He’s now poised to start his second year of Ph.D. studies in educational policy at Stanford University, coinciding with his selection as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

After Monroe completes his doctorate, he said he’d like to become a college professor and conduct education research in areas such as school transformation, policies and practices that will improve student achievement, the role of family and community partnerships with public schools, and issues of equity and access in STEM education, particular for underrepresented minorities.

Monroe said he’s grateful for the impact that UFTeach has had on his education philosophy and career path.

Monroe poses with a group of kids he met in Kano, Nigeria, where he conducted research as a UF undergraduate.

Monroe poses with a group of kids he met in Kano, Nigeria, where he conducted research as a UF undergraduate.

“The level of training and guidance from UFTeach equipped me with tools to succeed in the classroom as a pre-service teacher and in my local community work as an after-school instructor,” Monroe said. “This was also the beginning of my transition to the education field.”

“Education requires a great sense of humility, passion and the ability to partner with families and communities to best meet the needs of students, particularly our most vulnerable students,” he added.

Monroe said he vividly remembers something that UF STEM education instructor Kent Crippen said one night in class: “Students do not need your sympathy, they need you to teach them in ways that help to address the issues they face.”

Monroe’s fellowship was one of only 16 awarded by NSF in STEM education and learning research. The fellowship will support his study of the influence of teachers relating teaching content to the cultural backgrounds of their students.

Associate professor Crippen said Xavier’s fellowship award “is a significant accomplishment for a UFTeach alumnus and demonstrates the scope and broader impact of the program.”

SOURCE: Xavier Monroe,
SOURCE: Kent Crippen, UF College of Education; 352-273-4222;
WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;;



UF pioneering ‘STEAM’ elementary ed. at Coral Gables school

While St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School in Coral Gables, Fla., was designing its STEM laboratory three years ago, the University of Florida’s College of Education was expanding its K-12 STEM teacher preparation programs in several Florida school districts. The two institutions now are teaming up to take STEM education at the elementary school level to new heights.

Linda Jones

Linda Jones

At St. Thomas, STEM has evolved into STEAM–with the addition of art to the four original STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math). The concept of teaching STEM subjects through integrated, hands-on, community-based, service-learning projects rather than as stand-alone disciplines has been at the educational forefront for many middle and high school programs in recent years. Developing a comprehensive STEM/STEAM program for the elementary grades, however, is a pioneering adventure that St. Thomas and UF are ambitiously pursuing–full STEAM ahead.

UF faculty consultants from the College of Education’s mathematics and science education programs are now evaluating St. Thomas’s current STEM/STEAM program as a first step of a two-year plan. After completing a thorough inventory of what St. Thomas already has in place in terms of facilities, faculty training, resources and equipment, the UF team will determine the essential ingredients for implementing a school-wide STEM/STEAM education program.  

The UF researchers will collaborate with St. Thomas faculty and administrators to set goals, create an integrated curriculum map and provide teachers with STEAM-focused professional development, training and resources. After the STEAM program is launched, St. Thomas will sponsor a STEAM Education Institute to train other interested elementary school educators across Florida.

Tim Jacobbe

Tim Jacobbe

“Our collaboration with St. Thomas will provide participating students with opportunities to put their STEAM-related knowledge and skills to practical use by addressing real-world science-related problems and issues in their local community,” said Linda Jones, UF associate professor of science and environmental education, who is coordinating UF’s activities in the project. “Collaborative efforts like this benefit everyone involved including students, teachers, parents and the local community. ”

UF’s Tim Jacobbe, UF associate professor of mathematics and statistics education, is working with Jones on the project.

   Linda L. Cronin Jones, Ph.D., UF College of Education:; 352-273-4223



Research and engaged scholarship: innovations in STEM education reform

UF College of Education faculty and their graduate students are aggressively pursuing vital research, crossing multiple disciplines, that is making a dramatic impact on teacher preparation, teacher practice and student learning in the vital STEM disciplines–science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That focus is evident in the volume and quality of our grant-funding research projects and programs devoted to STEM education, with many projects involving collaborations and partnerships with Florida school districts.

Here are our current active STEM education-related grants (announced as of February 2014), with the most recently awarded grants listed first.

Lynda Hayes (PKY)
Technology Transformation for Rural School Districts
Florida Department of Education
10/01/2013 – 06/30/2014
Kent Crippen (STL)                                               
ChANgE Chem: Transforming Chemistry with Cognitive Apprenticeship for Engineers       
National Science Foundation
Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)                    
Gates Foundation Algebra Nation
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)                    
Palm Beach Count STEM Initiative—PEW
University of Florida Foundation              
Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)                    
Palm Beach Count STEM Initiative—Quantum
University of Florida Foundation              
Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)                    
Palm Beach Count STEM Initiative—Community
University of Florida Foundation              
Thomas Dana (Dean’s Area, Science Education)
Co-Pi: Dimple Malik Flesner (UFTeach)
Co-Pi: Thomasenia Lott Adams (Dean’s Area, Mathematics Education)
STEM EduGators: UF Noyce Scholars Program
National Science Foundation
September 2012 – August 2017

T. Griffith Jones (Science Education)
Co-PI: Dimple Malik Flesner (UFTeach)
Co-PI: Thomas Dana (Dean’s Area, Science Education)
Co-PI: Thomasenia Adams (Dean’s Area, Mathematics Education)
The Florida STEM- Teacher Induction and Professional Support Center
Florida Department of Education
July 2012 – June 2014

Elliot Douglas (College of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering)
Co-PI: Mirka Koro-Ljungberg (Research and Evaluation Methodology)
Implementing Guided Inquiry in Diverse Institutions
National Science Foundation
January 2012 – December 2014
Lynda Hayes (PK Yonge)
Co-PI: Rose Pringle (Science Education)
Co-PI: Mary Jo Koroly (Center for Precollegiate Education and Training)
Co-PI: Douglas Levey (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Biology)
U-FUTuRES – University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science
National Science Foundation
October 2011 – September 2016
Timothy Jacobbe (Mathematics Education)
LOCUS: Levels of Conceptual Understanding in Statistics
National Science Foundation
September 2011 – August 2015

STEM education: grant-funded projects recently expired

*Earliest project expiration date is July 2012

Linda Behar-Horenstein (Educational Leadership)
Co-Pi: Lian Niu (Doctoral Candidate in Higher Education Administration)
Choosing a STEM Major in College: Family Socioeconomic Status, Individual and Institutional Factors
Association for Institutional Research
June 2012 – May 2013

Elizabeth Bondy (Curriculum, Teaching, & Teacher Education)
OUTBREAK: Opportunities to Use Immersive Technologies to Explore Biotechnology Resources, Career Education, and Knowledge
University of Missouri (Subcontract)
Funded through the National Science Foundation
September 2011 – August 2012
Cynthia Griffin (Special Education)
Co-PI: Stephen Pape (Mathematics Education)
Co-PI: Nancy Dana (Curriculum and Instruction)
Prime Online: Teacher Pedagogical content Knowledge and Research-based Practice in Inclusive Elementary Mathematics Classrooms
US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
August 2010 – August 2013
Elliot Douglas (College of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering)
Co-PI: David Therriault (Educational Psychology)
Co-PI: Mirka Koro-Ljungberg (Research and Evaluation Methodology)
Empirical Study on Emerging Research: The Role of Epistemological Beliefs and Cognitive Processing on Engineering Students’ Ability to Solve Ambiguous Problems
National Science Foundation
August 2009 – July 2013

Cynthia Griffin (Special Education)
Co-PI: Joseph Gagnon (Special Education)
Co-PI: Stephen Pape (Mathematics Education)
US Department of Education – OSERS/OSEP
August 2008 – August 2012

Thomas Dana (Dean’s Area, Science Education)
Co-Pi: Alan Dorsey (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Physics)
Florida Teach: Increasing the Quantity & Quality of Mathematics & Science Teachers in Florida
National Math and Science Initiative
November 2007 – July 2012

Get there fast
Stepping Up in STEM Education 
COE Office of Educational Research



UF, Palm Beach County schools launch bold STEM ed reform effort

The School District of Palm Beach County, together with the University of Florida, has announced the launch of a three-year reform effort to build a “best-in-class” educational program in the vital STEM subject areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Officials say the ambitious effort could become a national model for transforming teacher practice and student learning in the STEM subjects. The resulting professional development and educational advances will directly benefit thousands of teachers and students in the Palm Beach County district.

Palm Beach County science teachers construct an atom model at a UF Summer Institute on chemistry instruction recently at UF's P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.

Palm Beach County science teachers construct an atom model at a UF Summer Institute on chemistry instruction recently at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.

Major funding support for the STEM initiative’s rollout comes from $1 million in combined grants from three charitable foundations—the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, the Mary and Robert Pew Public Education Fund and Quantum Foundation. Additional funding is projected with amounts to be considered before the effort’s second and third years.

UF has worked with the school district and its community and philanthropic partners in planning the initiative, and will provide “in-kind” professional development and educational programs valued at more than $1 million—funded primarily by additional state and national foundation grants held by UF’s College of Education 

UF and school district officials expect the Palm Beach County STEM Initiative to yield measurable improvement in four key areas: school culture, teacher quality, student learning, and higher performance and assessment evaluations in the STEM subjects for teachers and students. Certain programs are designed especially for schools in high-poverty communities where recruiting and retaining teachers is more challenging 

 “This bold initiative will position the Palm Beach County school system as a national leader in recruiting, retaining and developing highly effective teachers and boosting students’ achievement,” said Dean Glenn Good of UF’s College of Education. 

Palm Beach County School Superintendent E. Wayne Gent said, “With the ever increasing importance of STEM-related jobs in Florida, the (school district) is dedicated to equipping our teachers with the resources they need to educate the future STEM leaders of tomorrow. We are grateful to our partners at the University of Florida, along with the generosity of our key foundation partners, who made this program a reality.”

UF’s College of Education brings several existing STEM education innovations to the partnership. The college’s Lastinger Center for Learning will provide job-embedded professional learning opportunities to district science and math teachers, and the center’s free, online Algebra Nation tutoring program (launched last year in numerous Florida school districts) supports students and their teachers preparing for a required algebra end-of-course exam.

Through an outreach program called U-FUTuRES — or UF Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science — university professors will train middle-school Science Teacher Leaders to lead districtwide implementation of research-proven teaching practices and subject content. The education college also will provide tuition-free courses to 15 Palm Beach County teachers for a certification program in math or science education that they can take without leaving their classrooms. UF launched U-FUTuRES last year in 20 mostly rural Florida school districts under a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Another new UF program is Florida STEM-TIPS (Teacher Induction and Professional Support), which will have education faculty developing coaching, mentoring and networking programs for new science and math teachers in Palm Beach County.

Other components of the UF-Palm Beach Schools STEM initiative include:

  • Math and science clinics emphasizing special “inquiry-based” teaching and learning practices;
  • Weeklong summer institutes at UF for teachers led by UF science and math professors;
  • Regular meetings of principals and school leaders to support improved STEM teaching and learning in the district;
  • An annual learning showcase where teachers can share the results of their new learning experiences. 

    Source: Tom Dana, associate dean, UF College of Education, 352-273-4134
    Writer: Larry Lansford, News & Communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137,



Professor’s book ties origin of science fairs to call for more STEM education

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new book by a University of Florida education professor about science fairs and other extracurricular school science programs hits the shelves just as education in science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM disciplines – continues making headlines.

Sevan Terzian’s newly published book, Science Education and Citizenship, gives insight into the growing effort to improve science education by uncovering the history of science fairs, clubs and talent searches, such as Florida’s 58th annual State Science and Engineering Fair, set for March 26-28 in Lakeland.


Terzian, shown teaching in his Norman Hall classroom at the University of Florida.

“Science fairs, clubs and talent searches are familiar fixtures in American education, yet little has been known or written about why they began and grew in popularity,” said Terzian, an associate professor in social foundations of education at the University of Florida’s College of Education. He’s also associate director of graduate studies for the college’s School of Teaching and Learning.

His book, published in January by Palgrave Macmillan of New York City, traces the origins and civic purposes of American extracurricular programs dedicated to science between the 1920s and ‘50s.

“I think science fairs, clubs and talent searches are part of the rituals of school life,” Terzian said. “But it occurred to me that I did not know where they came from and why. When I began looking into that, that’s when it got exciting.”

Terzian said he found that the earliest programs between the 1920s and ‘30s were dedicated to encouraging students to understand the processes of scientific investigation so they would become more knowledgeable and involved American citizens

World War II, however, changed the landscape of extracurricular science activities. Terzian discovered that, as the United States mobilized for war, these science programs modified their activities to achieve a new overarching purpose: “to find the best and the brightest kids who could apply their expertise so the U.S. could win the war,” he said.

“The message these kids were hearing was, ‘We need you in order to win the war, to have a strong national defense, and to help the nation’s economy,’” Terzian said. “They would do all this by applying scientific knowledge to weapons or new technological innovations that would lead to material comforts for consumers.”

This goal continued well into the 1950s, and is still evident today, he said.

Terzian ‘s findings give perspective on the current movement to bolster science teaching and student achievement.

“Although we can all agree that high achievement in science is desirable in American education, we may not always spend enough time thinking why we think so,” Terzian said. “What exactly is it that we hope improved science education will give us?”

Terzian believes STEM education can serve many purposes, including the defense- and innovation-oriented reason that pervaded science education during World War II and the ensuing atomic age.

“STEM education should not be only for the future scientists,” Terzian said. “STEM education has the potential to cultivate rational thought, to encourage critical questioning, and even to foster empathy, which I think are essential characteristics of good citizens in a democratic society.”

To review or purchase Terzian’s new book, Science Education and Citizenship, visit the Palgrave Macmillan website.

: Sevan Terzian, UF College of Education,, 352-273-4216
Writer: Alexa Lopez, news and communications, UF College of Education;; 352-273-4449
Media Relations: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education;; 352-273-4137


UF gets $1.2 million to prepare science, math teachers for state’s high-needs schools

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Some experts are challenging the widespread notion of an overall worker shortage in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, but the paucity of schoolteachers in those vital subject areas is well documented.

That’s why the University of Florida has heightened emphasis on attracting more qualified STEM majors into the teaching ranks. The latest milestone is a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation announced Monday by UF officials. The five-year funding allows UF’s College of Education to start offering major scholarship support and hands-on training opportunities this semester to recruit and prepare top science and math majors for teaching careers, mainly in Florida’s neediest middle and high schools.

UF science education instructor Griffin Jones helps UFTeach student Ibn Ali in an experiment. (UFCOE file staff photos by Larry Lansford)

The NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program funds higher-education institutions to support scholarships, stipends and academic programs for STEM majors who pursue a teaching credential and commit to teaching at least two years in high-needs public school districts.

Over the next five years, UF will award Noyce scholarships worth $10,000 each to 50 undergraduate students enrolled in a program called UFTeach, which uses imaginative recruiting strategies to attract some of the university’s best students and exposes them to teaching through intensive, supervised classroom experiences in high-poverty schools. UFTeach is a joint effort of the colleges of Education and Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Enrolled students continue their science or math major while also pursuing a minor in education and most of the professional educator requirements. The scholarships will usually kick in for selected students during their senior year, when most UFTeach students serve their semester-long, full-time internship in a middle or high school science or math class.

“The senior year can be difficult for UFTeach students. The classroom-based apprentice-teaching course demands significant student time and attention. The Noyce scholarships will allow the students to focus on their apprenticeships in the classroom and ease their financial concerns,” said UF science education professor Tom Dana, the co-director of UFTeach and the principal investigator of the NSF-backed effort, which UF has dubbed the STEM EduGators program. “EduGators” is a traditional nickname for students, alumni and other stakeholders of the College of Education.

UF COE master mathematics teacher Gloria Weber assists UFTeach student Heather MacNeill in an exercise.

Another 90 UFTeach students, or 18 per year, will each receive stipends of nearly $5,000 while serving summer internships in informal science education settings such as the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF, zoos, botanical parks and nature centers. Interns must first attend an orientation and “boot camp” promoting learning in informal education settings.

“The informal teaching experience will help interns build their toolkit of ideas and teaching strengths and help them develop strategies for engaging a wide variety of learners in their classrooms,” said UFTeach associate director Dimple Flesner, the co-principal investigator of STEM EduGators. “This type of awareness and insight cannot be easily gained in the traditional settings in which teachers learn.”

Flesner said the interns also will participate in a mentored STEMS EduGator online community of students, faculty and staff to share insights, concerns and “aha moments” they experience during their summer internships.

She said the grant also pays for hiring staff, research and program evaluation, travel for interns, recruitment promotion and overhead expenses.

The NSF-Noyce scholarship program is just the latest initiative the College of Education has launched to bolster teaching and learning in the STEM subjects. The UFTeach program received a state workforce policy board’s Best Practices Award in 2011 for its role in addressing the critical shortage of math and science teachers. The newest NSF project follows on the heels of a $2 million state grant awarded to the college last October to create prototype “teacher induction” programs to support Florida science and math teachers in their first two years on the job.

An earlier NSF grant in 2011 pairs the College of Education with its K-12 laboratory school, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, in a $5 million campaign to boost student achievement in middle schools by improving science content knowledge among practicing teachers.

“Teachers have the greatest impact on student learning. Our country’s future success in this global economy requires college graduates who are literate in science, math and technology and can drive innovation, lead scientific discoveries and become engaged, informed citizens,” Dana said. “This means providing students with a much stronger foundation in the STEM subjects beginning in middle and high school.”

Source: Tom Dana, UF College of Education,, 352-273-4134
Source: Dimple Flesner, associate director, UFTeach,, 352-273-4189
Writer: Larry Lansford, news and communications, UF College of Education;; 352-273-4147



Workforce council recognizes UF-Teach math-science program

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—UF-Teach, an innovative teacher-preparation program that recruits some of the University of Florida’s top science and mathematics majors into the teaching profession, recently received STEMflorida’s Best Practices Award for excellence and accountability in targeted STEM teacher recruitment and retention efforts.

STEMflorida is a business-led statewide council created in 2009 by Workforce Florida, the state’s workforce policy and oversight board. (STEM is common shorthand for the technical disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, considered vital workforce skills in today’s competitive global marketplace.)

The award was presented recently during the STEMflorida Think Tank meeting in Orlando and recognized the UF Teach program’s role in addressing the critical shortage of math and science teachers in Florida.

UF-Teach master science instructor Griff Jones (left) helps a student on a class lesson.

UF-Teach is a collaboration between UF’s College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the goal is to recruit the very best math and science majors and prepare them to teach effectively. The program is funded by a $2.4 million grant over five years from the National Math and Science Initiative and a $1 million endowment from the Helios Education Foundation based in Tampa.

“In UF-Teach, we have master science and math teachers who induct the students into the community of teachers by showing them the most effective, research-proven teaching methods in the given content areas and exposing them to supervised classroom experiences with schoolchildren beginning in their first semester,” said Tom Dana, associate dean at UF’s College of Education and co-coordinator of UF Teach with physics professor and associate dean Alan Dorsey of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The program, now in its fourth year, offers students education minors for their efforts in hopes they will take to teaching. Their degrees qualify them for teaching certification in Florida schools.


The first UF-Teach class of 41 students enrolled in 2008. By spring of 2011, enrollment jumped to 224 students. Dana said projections for 2013 call for UF-Teach to graduate more than 30 students who will be certified, and highly qualified, to teach middle and high school math and science in Florida schools.

“That number should double to 60 graduates by 2015. By then, the number of middle school and high school math and science students served by UF-Teach graduates should top 7,500 and continue to grow each year,” Dana said.

For more information, contact Dana at or Dorsey at, or visit the UF Teach website at

Tom Dana, UFCOE associate dean and co-coordinator, UF Teach,
Larry Lansford, director, COE News & Communications,; 352-273-4137