UW Today

This is an archived article.

November 12, 1999

Graduate math, science and engineering students can get PRIME experience through fellowships in new UW program

Graduate math, science and engineering students desiring a PRIME experience should consider applying for one of 12 fellowships in a new University of Washington program, scheduled to begin in fall 2000, that seeks to involve UW students in revamping how middle school math and science are taught and learned.

The Partnership for Research in Inquiry-based Math, Science and Engineering Education program (PRIME) is a collaboration between the UW and five school districts in the Puget Sound area. The focus is on fostering student learning through inquiry at local middle schools. The program is funded by a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant. Applicants need not plan to go into classroom teaching, according to Denice Denton, dean of the College of Engineering. “But the skills they will acquire – in teaching and learning and in conducting educational research – will be valuable in a variety of careers.”

Fellows will attend a summer institute to learn about instructional theory and methods and to prepare for challenges they will face in the classroom. During the institute, the UW students will be paired with teachers from participating districts. The teacher-fellow teams will work together during the year, implementing and adapting existing science and math curricula through hands-on investigation. Fellows will also conduct research on the effectiveness of their partnerships for improving student learning in collaboration with classroom teachers.

In addition to boosting the content of middle school education, the program will give the fellows – graduate students who already possess strong skills in science, math and engineering – a better grounding in the art of teaching, Denton said.

“Part of the hope is to develop Ph.D. scientists, mathematicians and engineers who have a vision of the importance of K-12 education and who will continue to contribute throughout their careers,” Denton said.

The graduate fellowships pay an annual stipend of $18,000, plus a cost-of-education allowance. Applications are being accepted now. Interested students should contact Denton at denton@engr.washington.edu. An application form can be downloaded from the Web at http://www.engr.washington.edu/prime. Applicants must also submit a current resume.

UW partners in the program include all 10 departments in the College of Engineering, the departments of math, physics, chemistry, psychology and zoology, faculty in the College of Education, four diversity programs, the Center for Instructional Development and Research and the Office of Educational Assessment.

Three National Science Foundation projects located at the UW that focus on math, middle school science and inquiry-based science are also taking part. Participating school districts are Bellevue, Highline, Northshore, Seattle and Shoreline.

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For more information, contact Denton at (206) 543-0340 or denton@engr.washington.edu.