NSF Grant Funds Summer STEM Teaching Experience for Undergraduates at Trinity College

Dec 07, 2015
Trinity College student and facultyCaption: Neuroscience major Constance Ky ’17, right, grew up in Hartford and attended Hartford Magnet Middle School from 6th through 8th grade, before the school expanded to include 9th through 12th grades. Now as a Trinity student, Ky has been involved in the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy summer science workshops for the past two years – as a teaching intern in 2015 and as a teaching assistant in 2014. "As an aspiring teacher, it was a rewarding experience to work with the students,” said Ky. “It was especially gratifying to see some students who started out unsure of having an interest in science not only become engaged, but also thrive in the workshops.” Ky is shown here participating in training led by Alison Draper (in background, in blue), director of Trinity's Science Center and lecturer in interdisciplinary science. Photo courtesy of Trinity College.

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - Twelve undergraduate students from around the country will come to Trinity College this summer to participate in a new Summer STEM Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates from Liberal Arts Institutions (TEU) program, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The goal of the NSF grant is to increase the number of students from liberal arts institutions who are preparing to teach math and science,” said Trinity Science Center Director Alison J. Draper, who is also a lecturer in interdisciplinary science.

Draper is a principal investigator on the grant, along with two mathematicians from Vassar College and Bryn Mawr College. The grant of $2,137,727 is being awarded to Vassar, with $685,445 of that going to Trinity. Brown University, Bryn Mawr, and Barnard College are also partners on the grant, which will fund the TEU program for five years.

Undergraduate students from a network of about 60 liberal arts colleges and universities, Trinity students included, are eligible to apply for the program. Twelve students will participate in a mathematics TEU program at Brown, and 12 will participate in a science TEU program at Trinity, teaching science workshops to 10th-grade students from Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). The grant also will pay for instructors who will train the undergraduates to teach high school students and will supervise them in the classroom and in the field.

As part of Trinity and HMTCA’s ongoing education partnership, HMTCA students must take a writing workshop before 9th grade and a science workshop before 10th grade to maintain a spot in the award-winning magnet school. The summer science workshop has been held at Trinity for the past four years. “Our goal for the science workshop was to model how science was done in the real world,” Draper said. With a Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority grant last summer, Draper trained eight Trinity students to teach the HMTCA workshops. “What will be different under NSF is that the undergrads won’t be necessarily from Trinity,” Draper said.

Trinity College and HMTCA studentsCaption: Trinity College students Elise Lasky ’17 and Constance Ky ’17 (front left) and their Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy students during last summer’s science workshop. Photo courtesy of Trinity College.

Robert Cotto, Jr., director of urban educational initiatives and lecturer in educational studies at Trinity, said that one of the motivations for the HMTCA partnership is to allow high school students to have a positive, early experience on a college campus. The new TEU program will help to build that relationship and to expand its benefits to undergraduates from many other colleges. “This is a perfect example of how we’re able to be a liberal arts college and leverage our position as being in a city and having different partnerships already on the ground that not only Trinity students can take advantage of but now even a national group of students can participate in,” Cotto said.

The program also will serve as a way to develop and to test a model that can be shared and duplicated. Draper said, “We would really like other institutions in other parts of the country to be able to pick up this model and mount their own program. We think it’s a good idea, and it serves a whole bunch of purposes all at once. We’re serving the purposes of HMTCA, but we’re also serving our own students and students at partner institutions, so it’s a win-win-win.”