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National Science Teachers Association, ExxonMobil Foundation Expand Major Science Teacher Initiative to Ten New States
On April 7, 2000, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the world's largest organization dedicated to the improvement of science teaching, and ExxonMobil Foundation announced a $3.9 million grant from the Foundation to expand the Building a Presence for Science initiative. The grant brings ExxonMobil Foundation's total commitment to more than $6 million in support of the innovative science education program. Building a Presence for Science now will be implemented in a total of 23 states and the District of Columbia and will reach more than 36 million students in 73,000 schools.
The new grant enables ten additional states to participate in Phase II of the program, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
"Because of our long-term commitment to education, we are pleased to continue our partnership with NSTA to expand its Building a Presence for Science initiative," said Edward F. Ahnert, president of ExxonMobil Foundation, formerly the Exxon Education Foundation. "This outstanding program has the potential to make a profound difference in the ways that science is taught and learned."
Begun in 1996, Building a Presence for Science has been transforming the way teachers teach and students learn K-12 science. A primary objective of the program is to help science teachers implement state and national science education standards in their schools. A second goal is to create a network through which science teachers can share the latest ideas about effective science teaching.
"Building a Presence for Science has proven to be a major vehicle for integrating national science standards into the K-12 curriculum," said Gerry Wheeler, NSTA's executive director. "Within each state, the program can be tailored to meet specific needs and priorities. Teachers are enthusiastic about the program's professional development opportunities. They are eager to communicate with one another to update their knowledge in science, a field that is constantly changing. Providing science teachers with support is key to raising science achievement of our nation's students."
In partnership with state-based education organizations, NSTA identifies a cadre of educators to serve as Key Leaders in each state. The Key Leaders select, with input from principals, one teacher from each of 25-30 schools in a geographic cluster to serve as a Point of Contact. Each Point of Contact is a conduit to other science-teaching colleagues, bringing to them resources and professional development opportunities that emphasize state and national standards-based science teaching and learning. Teachers and schools adapt the program to fit priorities and needs in their individual states.
During Phase I, Building a Presence for Science provided professional development and networked science teachers in Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The number of schools joining the program in these states continues to grow. Phase I was funded in large part by ExxonMobil Foundation.
NSTA announced the launch of the second phase of Building a Presence for Science at a briefing held April 7 at its 48th National Convention in Orlando. Founded in 1944, the National Science Teachers Association seeks to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. Its more than 53,000 members include science teachers of all grade levels, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.
From its inception in 1955, the ExxonMobil Foundation has provided more than $500 million in financial support to education organizations. The Foundation's principal areas of interest in education are: K-12 science education; mathematics education with an emphasis on K-3; the restructuring of elementary and secondary education; reform of undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics education; and increasing opportunities for minorities.