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Peckham Hall Now Open

28 Sep

It’s official! Peckham Hall, home of the Integrated Center for Math and Science, is now open.

To learn more about the facility and Nazareth’s math and science academic programs, please visit naz.edu/icms.

And for a Flickr gallery of the day’s events, click here.

From the D&C: “Nazareth College to cut ribbon on $30 million math and science building”

27 Sep

Although students, faculty, and staff have enjoyed studying and working in Peckham Hall for a few weeks, today is the official ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating Nazareth’s newest academic building on campus. As reported by the Democrat and Chronicle:

Nazareth College’s new Integrated Center for Math and Science building, which has its ceremonial ribbon-cutting Thursday, is a sign of where this college is heading.

The $30 million facility — called Peckham Hall — features 20 labs along with six classrooms that provide needed space not only for math and science students but also for the growing number of students majoring in health and human service programs, which often require courses with lab work.

It’s the largest new academic building constructed on Nazareth’s 150-acre campus since the college opened in 1924. The new four-story facility is near the Golisano Academic Center and has a Gothic design to fit in with existing structures but has large windows to give it a modern look.

Join us today at 4 p.m. for the ribbon-cutting and celebration reception!

Nazareth and RIT Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

12 Sep

Nazareth College and RIT have been awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support Tech2Teach, a joint program between RIT and Nazareth to support RIT students considering careers as middle school and high school math, science, and technology teachers. As reported by the Rochester Business Journal:

“The Learning Assistant program is the gateway through which RIT students can enter Tech2Teach and should increase the number of students who pursue secondary education careers,” Franklin said. “As a result, public schools will ultimately be able to recruit from a pool of new teachers who have a deep knowledge of a STEM discipline as well as educational theory and practice.”

Franklin is working with Craig Hill, interim dean of the Nazareth school of education, and Patricia Huntington, director of academic support services in the school of education at Nazareth, to develop the two-phase program, most of which will reside at RIT.

“Nazareth College is committed to addressing the decline in the number of college graduates in the U.S. who pursue K-12 teaching careers in science, technology and mathematics,” Hill said. “Nazareth values this creative partnership with RIT that encourages undergraduate students to pursue the further study of education while showcasing a spirit of collaboration among higher educators in our region.”

To learn more about Tech2Teach, please click here.

Less Than Three Weeks Until the Grand Opening Celebration

10 Sep

Let’s Celebrate!

Please join us on Thursday, September 27, 2012, as we gather to celebrate the grand opening of Peckham Hall, home of the Integrated Center for Math and Science.

Schedule

4 p.m. Ribbon Cutting
Welcome, special remarks, and ribbon cutting.

4:45 p.m. Celebration Reception
Wine and appetizer reception with the opportunity to explore the new building on your own or with a guided faculty-student led tour. Experience the state-of-the-art labs and classrooms and learn about the new programs and student opportunities that will happen in the building.

RSVP requested by Wednesday, September 19 to Stacey Stehle at 585-389-2409 or mstehle6@naz.edu.

New York Times Opinion Pages: “Is Algebra Necessary?”

30 Jul

Advanced mathematics: A necessary step?

From order of operations (PEMDAS, anyone?) to calculus, many people can recall struggling with math at some point during their school years. But through hard work, good teachers, lots of homework, extra tutoring, or (perhaps) sheer luck, many of these same people manage to weather those rough math patches.

Many, but not all.

If advanced math is such a thorn in the side of student learning, why do we subject American students to this ordeal? That’s the question posed by Andrew Hacker in a recent New York Times opinion piece.

Hacker, an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York, opines about the necessity and relevance of higher level mathematics such as algebra, calculus, and trigonometry. Hacker’s thoughts are worth reading in full, and his points include the following:

  • “What is needed is not textbook formulas but greater understanding of where various numbers come from, and what they actually convey.”
  • Too often, argues Hacker, math “is used as a hoop, a badge, a totem to impress outsiders and elevate a profession’s status.” His examples? “Certification programs for veterinary technicians require algebra, although none of the graduates I’ve met have ever used it in diagnosing or treating their patients. Medical schools like Harvard and Johns Hopkins demand calculus of all their applicants, even if it doesn’t figure in the clinical curriculum, let alone in subsequent practice.”
  • Math teachers “at every level could create exciting courses in what I call ‘citizen statistics’ … [which] would familiarize students with the kinds of numbers that describe and delineate our personal and public lives.”

The “toll mathematics takes begins early,” contends Hacker, and he goes on to cite numerous (disheartening) statistics about this nation’s high school failure and drop-out rates. “Yes,” he says, “young people should learn to read and write and do long division, whether they want to or not. But there is no reason to force them to grasp vectorial angles and discontinuous functions.”

Mental Floss t-shirt for the mathlete in all of us.

Is Hacker throwing the baby out with the bath water? Or is this the provocative and innovative kind of thinking that the U.S. education system is in dire need of? Alas, there are no simple answers. Read the article (and the insightful comments following) and let us know what you think. And if you’re one of those people who loves math (we know you’re out there!), you may be interested in some uniforms for yourself and fellow mathletes.

From The Atlantic: A Microscope With a View

23 Jul

Every year, the Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition brings together “the most extraordinary microscope images of life science subjects from around the world.” With the blessing of the competition’s sponsors, The Atlantic  has compiled some of the top images, “displaying a compelling mix of art and science.”

Honorable mention: Detail of a pod of the flowering legume Scorpius muricatus (common name “Prickly Caterpillar”), by Viktor Sýkora, from Hyskov, Czech Republic. (Olympus BioScapes)

Click here to see more of the stunning top submissions.

As these pictures demonstrate, art and science are not mutually exclusive. And the benefits of an education and worldview that combine both cannot be understated.

The creativity of people educated in the liberal arts and sciences is a hallmark of a Nazareth College education. In Nazareth’s core curriculum, the arts and the sciences combine and overlap to help students identify “enduring” questions–those which pervade human lives and relationships across cultures. “As effective critical thinkers and skilled problem-solvers,” explains Deb Dooley ’75, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, “our graduates have not only the content knowledge of their discipline, but also the cognitive ability to analyze and synthesize information in new ways. They learn to become creators of knowledge, not merely imitators of what others know.”

From AP: “Obama proposes $1B for science, math teachers”

18 Jul

Throughout his presidency, President Obama and his administration have been committed to improving math and science education in the United States. The latest plan to that end includes building a Master Teacher Corps, the Associated Press reports:

Teachers selected for the Master Teacher Corps will be paid an additional $20,000 a year and must commit to participate multiple years. The goal is to create a multiplier effect in which expert educators share their knowledge and skills with other teachers, improving the quality of education for all students.

Underscoring such efforts, reports Josh Lederman, is a “report released in February by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology found that the U.S. must increase by 34 percent the number of students receiving degrees in science, math and related fields to keep up with economic demand.”

“I’m running to make sure that America has the best education system on earth, from pre-K all the way to post-graduate,” Obama said. “And that means hiring new teachers, especially in math and science.”

Nazareth College shares the president’s vision and urgency. Every teacher can touch more than 1,000 lives during a career–and for more than 80 years, Nazareth has prepared some of the area’s most innovative and inspiring educators.

The dream of the Integrated Center for Math and Science will soon be a reality–and it is a direct response to local, national, and international needs. The official grand opening will be held on Thursday, September 27, with celebratory events including a ribbon cutting and reception. But more importantly, the new center (to be housed in Peckham Hall) will be a sate-of-the-art environment where Nazareth students can explore the hands-on, experiential, integrated teaching methods that prepare them to shape the Rochester region and beyond in the decades to come.

The Chronicle: “What does it mean for kids to be ‘ready’ for math?”

17 Jul

Echoing the concerns expressed in a USA Today op-ed, Robert Talbert reiterates in The Chronicle that perhaps we’re “asking young kids to move up in mathematics too far, too soon.” He quotes the op-ed’s author, Patrick Welsh, who says:

I worry that we’re pushing many kids to grasp math at higher levels before they are ready. When they struggle, they begin to dread math, and eventually we lose thousands of students who could be the scientists and engineers of tomorrow. If we held back and took more time to ground them in the basics, we could turn them on to math.

Talbert then extends Welsh’s concern to the teaching of calculus:

Where I see the effects of an early push into higher levels of math is in another subject that is often pushed down too far: Calculus. Here, whether it’s in an AP Calculus class in high school or the traditional freshman calculus class in college, the effects of early pushes to higher levels of mathematics are greatly compounded. Issues with arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry tend to get amplified in calculus, which needs facility with all those subjects.

An understanding–not just memorization–of mathematics fundamentals is crucial to higher-level math. At Nazareth, the mathematics program focuses on problem solving. Mathematics is taught as a language of patterns, de-emphasizing rote learning and encouraging the integration of numerical, graphical, and symbolic approaches to problem solving. The department wants all students to understand that mathematics is more than a collection of recipes for solving equations and that there often may be multiple correct answers to complex problems.

Likewise, Nazareth’s School of Education has a long history of preparing some of the area’s most innovative and inspiring teachers. To this end, the College offers a collaboration with RIT to continue preparing some of the best and brightest educators: It’s called Tech2Teach. Many students journey to RIT because of an interest in and fascination with science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Not only do these students excel in their chosen disciplines, but they also have a passion for exploration, learning, and discovery—a passion that many of them want to share with the next generation of students.

Knowledge in math and the sciences grows exponentially; teachers must inspire students at all levels to unleash their imaginations as they obtain the foundation necessary to understand our world–and perhaps someday help transform it. But the demand for high quality K–12 math and science educators is well documented with a projected shortfall of more than 280,000 math and science teachers across the United States by 2015.

With the Integrated Center for Math and Science (which opens in the fall and will be housed in Peckham Hall), Nazareth College will continue and extend its commitment to keep teachers up to date in the latest proven educational methods throughout their careers.

From Slate and AP: The Challenges and Opportunities of Teaching Math and Science

19 Jun

In his article for Slate, David E. Drew outlines “five of the myths that are making it difficult for us to fix science education,” including the misconceptions of America’s deteriorating education system and the assumption that aptitude is primarily needed to excel in math and science.

Misconceptions or not, the Associated Press reports that according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (aka Nation’s Report Card), “American children do much better identifying the correct answers to simple scientific tasks than using evidence from their experiments to explain those answers.” One teacher in the article laments that teachers “have moved towards teaching more knowledge, as opposed to the understanding behind that knowledge.”

Although certainly one facet of the issue, Drew also highlights the difficulty in retaining teachers in the education field:

We need more excellent teachers, and attracting top students into STEM teaching helps. The problem, however, is not recruiting people into teaching. The problem is keeping them in teaching. Teachers work very hard. They are not paid enough. They endure great stress daily. These factors drive many out of the profession. A study by the National Education Association found that the five year dropout rate for new teachers is 50 percent.

It’s like pouring water into a sieve. We must develop and implement effective strategies for retaining the talented people who choose this profession. Most important is professional development, the process of renewing and upgrading teacher knowledge and competencies.

The state of math and science education in America is a nationwide challenge. But with challenges come opportunities.

Since 1924, Nazareth has been producing great teachers, and the College’s network of thousands of graduates has left its mark on upstate New York and beyond. Many of the region’s most innovative and inspiring teachers got their start at Nazareth. In addition to partnerships such as Tech2Teach with RIT, the September opening of the Integrated Center for Math and Science in Peckham Hall will be yet another opportunity for the College to better educate and prepare the math and science teachers of the future.

From Elearning! Magazine and Slate: More science needed

7 Jun

Ask a school-age child today what he or she wants to be when they grow up. Unfortunately, the answer is probably not a scientist or engineer.

There just aren’t enough young people sticking with the hard sciences, according to Leland Melvin, former astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Education. A recent Elearning! magazine article goes on to report that among “American fourth-graders, only three out of 10 science students and four out of 10 math students demonstrate a high level of interest and aptitude. By high school, that number drops to only two out of 10.” The article continues:

Currently, there are over 1 million jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields going unfilled. The future will require even more of these high tech workers. [...] It is critically important to develop young people who are trained in STEM, because that’s where the best, most interesting ideas come from. “Those kids could be the doctors who save your life,” said Melvin, “… or planting the American flag on Mars.”

A related issue is that there simply “are not enough qualified STEM teachers, and there are limited resources available to train them … Only 16 percent of high school students go to college in STEM fields, and only 12 percent graduate with STEM degrees.”

A recent Slate article echoes Melvin’s concerns. David Plotz reports that, “In 2010, only 4.9 percent of American jobs were in science and engineering, down from 5.3 percent in 2000—the first such decline since 1950.U.S. companies are building factories overseas because they can’t hire enough competent engineers at home.” Plotz goes on to outline some of the quandaries endemic to the issue:

How can we educate more and better scientists and engineers? How can we make science and math enticing to kids? How can we make sure that college students don’t flee labs like I did? How can we persuade kids with scientific inclinations to stay in the sciences? And how can we teach basic science literacy to non-scientists, so they can have a voice in public discussion about cutting-edge technologies and discoveries?

Slate has opened up the discussion to its forum of readers, stating:

We will tackle why science education is lagging and how we can, and must, improve it. Successful scientists will write about what turned them on to science. We’ll offer new methods for how to teach science and math. We’ll focus on how to keep girls interested in science. We’ll ask whether standardized tests inspire or demoralize potential scientists. We’ll look at how other countries teach science and figure out which of their ideas we should steal. [...] We’ll be publicizing the most provocative and promising ideas at the end of the month.

With the grand opening of Peckham Hall, which houses the Integrated Center for Math and Science, in September, Nazareth College is also part of this ongoing nationwide discussion. As Nazareth College President Daan Braveman notes, “This building will help Nazareth expand the number of students interested in pursuing careers in math, science, technology, health care, and teaching. The project will also ensure that our students graduate successfully and enter the workforce or graduate school prepared to begin the next chapter of their lives.”

But it’s not only math and science majors who will benefit from the new and improved learning and research spaces on campus. As a comprehensive college, Nazareth offers its students a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. And as part of that curriculum, lab courses are required. Therefore, all undergraduate students at the College will use and benefit from this center. In the last few years especially, Nazareth has seen a significant increase in enrollment in health and human services programs, which require a number of science courses. Also, in the last five years, Nazareth College has pledged to help meet the national demand for more and better qualified math and science teachers at the K–12 levels. Education remains a cornerstone program at Nazareth, and the College is committed to graduating the best prepared math and science educators for Rochester, the region, and beyond.

The Integrated Center for Math and Science in Peckham Hall will offer more than just updated lab spaces and classrooms. The center will feature dedicated, flexible, and multi-purpose research spaces, a range of support services (including computer labs and preparation rooms), and a variety of student centers—from collaborative group meeting halls to individual tutoring rooms. The building will provide a balance of student, teaching, and research needs—all critical to an interdisciplinary education.

Nazareth College is directly addressing the regional, national, and international need for more scientists, mathematicians, educators in these fields, researchers, health care professionals, and more. From Nazareth graduates restoring patients’ health to faculty inspiring a love for science in area youth and students, the College is committed to discovering and supporting knowledge and skills that will benefit everyday lives.

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