Grant from GE Foundation to University of Houston to strengthen math, tech 'pipeline'


HOUSTON, April 13, 2004 A $300,000 grant from the GE Foundation to the University of Houston will enhance an education program aimed at encouraging students to pursue college-level studies in the quantitative areas of mathematics, science, technology and engineering.

The GE Foundation's Math Excellence Program Grant, given to UH's College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM), is designed to support the creation of a "math and technology pipeline" at the middle and high school levels that engages teachers, as well as women and minority students from the greater Houston metropolitan area in professional development and service learning activities. Targeting underserved communities, the program is designed to strengthen and expand mathematics skills and technological self-efficacy of both teachers and students, while encouraging students' pursuit of such study.

"We're honored to be one of only 32 universities in the U.S. receiving this type of grant from the GE Foundation," said John Bear, dean of UH's College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "This is the first partnership of its kind in Texas and is a natural fit, given our commitment to community outreach and the diversity of our student base."

Richard Stewart, vice president of GE Energy, said, "We look forward to working closely with the education community to make this program a true success story. The support from the GE Foundation will enable GE volunteers, University professionals and faculty and staff from Houston ISD schools to effectively partner to create a much-needed mathematics and technology pipeline in Houston."

In partnership with Ross Shaw Sterling High School and Thomas Middle School (a feeder school for Sterling) in HISD, NSM's Department of Mathematics is working with Sterling's executive principal, Daisy Maura, to develop outreach programs. With the support of GE volunteers and other organizations, this program is designed to foster increased interaction among students, teachers and university faculty. It is expected that these activities will lead to improved mathematics education in the Houston metropolitan area and enhanced recruiting of promising students into related college programs.

The program also will nurture the "teacher pipeline." Mentors will support teachers' efforts through workshops and trainings to develop an increased capacity to handle advanced material in thorough and challenging ways in order to compliment and promote true student advancement. Additionally, UH faculty, staff and students will create a Web-based "virtual resource center" for teachers, administrators and university professors and researchers to provide assessment tools, communicate project results and support service learning as a path for building math skills and their practical application.

To measure success, the program established specific goals that include increasing the number of students enrolled in eighth grade algebra from 10 to 15 percent, in 11th grade pre-calculus by 100 percent and in 12th grade calculus from less than one up to four percent. This will ensure that students who enter the mathematics "pipeline" are adequately prepared for successful entry in and completion of a university program in related subjects.

GE volunteers from the Houston area will support the program by serving as student and teacher mentors using "customized" mentors who represent minority or female groups and providing assistance to define appropriate service learning projects and application examples. GE also plans to host plant tours to showcase the technology in place in today's competitive energy environment.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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