Contact: Abigail Fota, College Relations Associate - 610-740-3790 or
Iva Tchomakova, College Relations Intern

National Science Foundation Awards
$281,000 Grant to Cedar Crest College

College Benefits From Grant That Launches A Uniquely Designed Program To Aid Future Math and Science Educators

Allentown, PA (November 10, 2003) - The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $281,000 grant to Cedar Crest College to support mathematics and science education in local school districts. Over the next five years, the grant money will be used to bring more math and science expertise into the classroom by re-designing teacher preparation programs and intensifying efforts to recruit and retain math and science majors interested in pursuing teaching careers.

To accomplish this, Cedar Crest will use the grant money to develop the Science Majors Actively Recruited for Teaching program (SMART). The SMART program's goal is to provide exceptional teaching experiences to future mathematics and science educators. The development and success of the SMART program is crucial in aiding and providing support in the math and science education fields, as Cedar Crest is one of the top exports of math and science teachers in the Lehigh Valley area and particularly the Allentown School District.

"The SMART Internship program will give our intended science majors a chance to learn what it is like to be a science teacher before they get too wrapped up in the certification process. There are some terrific job opportunities for those students who take that path," said Brian Exton, instructor in the department of chemistry and physical science at Cedar Crest College and Project Director of the SMART Internship Program.

Exton initiated the grant with Dr. Joy Karnas, assistant professor of biology at Cedar Crest. Together they will design and offer summer workshops where participants will learn about the ways school children learn science, such as project-based and inquiry-based curricula, and then design a project or exhibit that they will implement during the school year. "Formal science education, such as classroom teaching, is just one avenue open to our students. Informal science education such as that provided by the Discovery Center represents an equally important and challenging way for our students to learn about the world around them," said Exton.

Lin Erikson, Executive Director of The Discovery Center, predicts that the project will have a significant impact on student achievement. "The real benefit of this project is its emphasis on partnerships as school districts and higher education institutions work together to design new curricula and provide professional development for faculty. Over time, the result will be more and better qualified teachers and increased student performance."

The SMART program will launch this summer as the Discovery Center and Cedar Crest will welcome their first interns. The College's faculty and staff will facilitate the program throughout the next five years. "The long term plan is to substantially increase the number of science and math education co-majors at Cedar Crest. If that goal is met, there would be a great incentive for the college to continue funding the program. If the interns prove to be an invaluable asset, to the Discovery Center, as we think they will, we would also look to them for support," said Exton.

Cedar Crest receives this grant from the NSF as a regional partner in the Math Science Partnerships of Greater Philadelphia (MSPGP). The partnership involves 13 Pennsylvania colleges and universities and will potentially impact over 117,000 middle and high school students over the next five years. The MSPGP was selected from a nation-wide competition involving over 260 proposals that were merit reviewed by teams of panelists from around the country.

For more information about the SMART program, please contact the College Relations Office at 610-740-3790.

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Abigail Fota
College Relations Associate - Media


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