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Grant aims to create better “chemistry” between teachers and classrooms

California State University, Long Beach intends to reach out to local elementary and high school teachers to provide “out-of-classroom science experiences,” according to a press release from the university.

A $200,000 grant awarded to CSULB intends to help the university focus on enhancing the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through a two-year project.

More than 6,000 CSULB students are enrolled in a STEM major as of fall 2013. Only 44 percent of high school graduates in the U.S. are ready for college-level math, and 36 percent are ready for college science, according to a study conducted in 2013 by the National Math and Science Initiative.

The grant, provided by the W.M. Keck Foundation, will work to expedite the transition of future elementary and secondary level teachers into classrooms through more hands-on experience. This will be done through partnerships between local after-school programs and science education institutes.

CSULB science education associate professor James Kisiel, who is also the lead of the grant, said this is an opportunity to improve the comfortability and experiences of future teachers.

“This is an extraordinary supplemental experience that we hope not only makes them feel more confident as a future teacher, but also helps them to become more confident and comfortable teaching science,” Kisiel said, according to the press release.

CSULB will be working with the CSU Chancellor’s Office, California State University, Los Angeles and four community partners, including the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell after-school program.

Kisiel approximates that about 150 future teachers and thousands of young students who are involved in after-school programs and visits to the local science center or aquarium will connect with the program.

“There is still a need for good, passionate science teachers, but we need to give them more authentic and more positive experiences before they walk into a classroom for the first time,” Kisiel said, according to the press release.

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