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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.

The Right Chemistry

13 Jul

Goodwell Nzou ’15

Nazareth College chemistry major Goodwell Nzou ’15 has accomplished some extraordinary things in his short life: he’s toured Europe and America as a percussionist with his internationally recognized band, has been featured in an Oscar-winning documentary, and graduated from the most prestigious high school in Zimbabwe – all of which started with a snake bite.

You can read Nzou’s incredible story here.

Toxicology at Nazareth, Beginning in Fall 2012

6 Jul

Nazareth’s new toxicology program is one of less than a dozen undergraduate toxicology programs in the country. Located in Peckham Hall, which houses Nazareth’s brand new $32 million Integrated Center for Math and Science, the toxicology program offers many career options for students. To learn more, visit the Nazareth toxicology program webpage.

From The Huffington Post: 30 Biologists and Chemists to Follow on Twitter

3 Jul

The Huffington Post recently compiled an impressive list of biologists, chemists, physicists, and scientists worth following on Twitter:

From live-tweeting big science conferences, to sharing small victories (or failures) in the lab, to ranting about that #ScienceGirlThing video, these scientists are full of interesting things to say. So get in on the action, join the conversation, make friends with the science superstars.

And follow @NazarethCollege for the latest campus happenings, including updates on the Integrated Center for Math and Science in Peckham Hall.

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.

“Every child is a scientist.”

30 May

Brain Picking’s Maria Popova shares a great video featuring astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson musing on our intrinsic human interest and curiosity in science and creativity:

 

Nazareth has equipped thousands of local professionals to build their lives here in Rochester, N.Y., and beyond. Many of our alumni stay in the greater Rochester region–and for nearly a century, we’ve helped keep the region culturally rich, intellectually curious, physically healthy.

Now, an exciting new space is taking shape on campus—the Integrated Center for Math and Science, opening in fall 2012. Here, a new generation of teachers, physicians, scientists, veterinarians, and environmentalists will help our graduates and the community soar into the future.

 

Save the date for the grand opening of the Integrated Center for Math and Science on Thursday, September 27, 2012.

The day’s events are still being finalized, but please mark your calendars and join us in celebrating this major milestone for the College.

White House Science Fair Plus More Support for Math & Science Teachers

8 Feb

President Obama | From AP | Photo By Charles Dharapak

Since beginning his term, U.S. President Barack Obama has championed support for math and science educators, as well as the students who will one day apply what they’ve learned to create future positive change. At yesterday’s second annual White House Science Fair, the president reiterated “the importance he places on innovation, science, and education — which will be reflected in his budget to be unveiled next week,” reports AFP.com. In addition, the president announced the following:

Let’s train more teachers. Let’s get more kids studying these subjects. Let’s make sure these fields get the respect and attention that they deserve.

But it’s not just a government effort. I’m happy to say that the private sector has answered that call as well. They understand how important it is to their future. So today, led by the Carnegie Corporation, a group of businesses and foundations is announcing a $22 million fund to help train 100,000 new science and math teachers. A coalition of more than 100 CEOs is expanding innovative math and science programs to 130 sites across the country. And other companies are partnering—everybody from Will.i.am to Dean Kamen—to make sure we celebrate young scientists and inventors and engineers, not just at the White House, but in every city and every town all across America.

And many of these leaders are here today, and I want to thank them for doing their part. We’re going to do everything we can to partner to help you succeed in your projects. And I’m proud to announce that the budget I unveil next week will include programs to help prepare new math and science teachers, and to meet an ambitious goal, which is 1 million more American graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next 10 years. That is a goal we can achieve.

Video of the president at the White House Science Fair is available here.

Nazareth College is also doing its part to help achieve this ambitious goal. The College offers teachers-to-be creative and innovative educational degrees in its School of Education, such as the Tech2Teach program, a collaborative agreement between Nazareth and the Rochester Institute of Technology. The program offers RIT undergraduates interested in teaching the chance to earn a Master of Science in Education and teacher certification.

Meanwhile, Nazareth’s College of Arts and Sciences provides a liberal arts and sciences foundation that promotes flexible, integrated, and critical thinking skills across the disciplines.

And seven months from now, Nazareth College students will begin studying and learning in the LEED-certified, state-of-the-art Integrated Center for Math and Science. These graduates will go on to be the future educators, healers, researchers, artists, businesspeople, successful professionals and engaged citizens for this region and beyond.

Alumni Profile: From Nazareth environmental science major to Seneca Park Zoo program development manager

1 Feb

Emily Coon-Frisch by Kate Melton for the D&C

Emily Coon-Frisch ’05, an environmental science major from Nazareth College, is currently the program development manager at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York. She was recently featured in the Democrat and Chronicle’s “On The Ladder” section, which profiles young professionals in the area. The article’s author, Jinelle Shengulette, explains that:

Her job has her teaching preschool classes, introducing animals to the children, a story time, songs, crafts and more. She is also coordinating the ZooCamp programs for ages 3 to 12, during summer and school breaks. When not managing those programs, Coon-Frisch is training staff and writing curricula. She also spends a lot of time working with local teachers to work on the zoo’s new exhibit, “A Step into Africa.”

Coon-Frisch advocates for interaction as a key component of education. “When I am writing lesson plans for a new class or camp,” she explains, “I try to create activities where the children can see these animals up close, maybe even touch them, because I believe these memorable interactions will help them to understand and retain the information I am teaching.”

To read more about Nazareth alum Coon-Frisch, including a Q-and-A, visit the Democrat and Chronicle online. And for more information about Nazareth College’s new Integrated Center for Math and Science–including how it will help educate the scientists, researchers, teachers, and educators of the future–visit the College’s campaign website.

Biology Major Receives International Scholarship

21 Dec

Congratulations to Tiffany Wendt, a Nazareth College junior majoring in biology, the recipient of a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman Program encourages students to select non-traditional study abroad destinations.  Tiffany will be studying at Veritas University, Costa Rica, through the American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS Abroad).

The scholarship process is very competitive.  Students must have an outstanding academic record and must submit a proposal for a project relating to their international program following the completion of the the semester abroad. The Gilman scholarship program is funded through the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 and is sponsored by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

With the opening of the new Integrated Center for Math and Science in fall 2012, the College will better meet the needs of all its students, regardless of major or discipline. The building will feature state-of-the art classrooms and labs that all undergraduate students will use during their time at Nazareth. These students will then go on to become the health care workers, educators, scientists, artists, businesspeople, activists, and professionals who will transform this region and beyond for years to come.