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Computer and Math Students

February 2007

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New funding means opportunities for computer science and math students

Faculty members will be able to offer a richer experience in computer science and math, thanks to two significant grants announced last month.

Students at both St. Norbert College and in local middle and elementary schools will benefit from programs funded by the awards, which together total almost $750,000.

A $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support scholarships and programs that will help St. Norbert attract more students to math and computer science. A $242,570 award from the State of Wisconsin will fund a partnership program that will support math instruction in Green Bay area schools.

Grant supports scholarship program

The NSF grant will provide support for a program designed to engage undergraduate students in mathematics and computer science.

Over a four-year period, this initiative will award more than 90 scholarships. About 24 awards, averaging $4,815 and up to a maximum of $10,000, will be made annually. A special effort will be made to recruit and select individuals from traditionally underserved and underrepresented groups in mathematics and computer science.

“With this grant, we will be able not only to attract more students to mathematics or computer science,” said John Frohliger (Mathematics), “but also to give those students the opportunity to come to St. Norbert College and pursue their studies under the guidance of an excellent faculty.”

Created by Frohliger, David Pankratz (Computer Science) and Bonnie McVey (Computer Science), the initiative will provide students with financial support, academic advising and mentoring, access to internship and recruitment opportunities, opportunities to socialize informally with faculty and peers, and specialized seminars.

A “Secrets for Success” seminar series has been specially developed to help students succeed as mathematics and computer science majors and, eventually, as professionals in these fields. Seminar topics include career choices, research opportunities, tips for academic success, and movies about mathematics and computer science.

Partnership will benefit pupils in area schools

Pairs of math teachers from target schools will have the opportunity to work together with mathematics professors from St. Norbert College over a one-and-a-half year period, thanks to the second award, a Mathematics and Science Partnership Program grant from the State of Wisconsin.

The teachers, from the Green Bay Area Public School District, will be able to deepen their own knowledge of mathematical concepts and learn new pedagogical practices.

This program will also develop mathematics understanding through applications in science. The grant partnership will concentrate on strengthening comprehension and building proficiency with standards-based instructional practices among participating teachers from grades four through eight.

Katherine Muhs (Mathematics) and Bonnie Berken (Mathematics) are developing three graduate-level courses that are tailored to fit the needs of district school teachers. These will help the educators

  • develop a clearer and more extensive understanding of mathematical concepts;
  • improve mathematical instruction and assessment through the clearer application of research-based pedagogy, including alternative teaching and assessment strategies; and
  • integrate applied mathematics concepts with the world of science instruction.

Teachers will receive a total of six graduate credits through St. Norbert College for their successful participation.

The Green Bay Area Public School District teachers involved will share what they learn in the project with their colleagues. This will create a kind of domino effect, say representatives from the school district. Scores of additional teachers and, ultimately, their students will benefit.

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