July 10, 2017

Van Hollen, Cardin Announce $1 Million Grant for the American Physical Society

Today U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen amd Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) announced that the National Science Foundation has awarded the American Physical Society (APS) a grant to address the severe shortage of qualified science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers. APS is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The situation in physics is particularly alarming: fewer than half of all high school physics classrooms are led by a teacher with a degree in physics, and physics is the number one shortage area for new K-12 teachers. The $1 million grant - with the potential for $3 million over the next five years - will fund the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) project. Their vision is that every student has the opportunity to learn physics from a highly qualified teacher and that the United States is ultimately able to meet the high demand for STEM professionals. PhysTEC has been led by APS and the American Association of Physics Teachers since 2001.

"STEM education has become increasingly important to preparing Maryland's students for in-demand jobs, and physics is a central piece of that education," said Senator Van Hollen. "This grant will help ensure that students across the country have the training they need to ultimately be successful in the 21st century economy and keep America competitive globally."

"A strong STEM education opens doors to good quality jobs. This investment in our children and educators will help ensure that the next generation has the knowledge and STEM competency to keep America competitive in the global marketplace," said Senator Cardin. "We simply need more science, technology, engineering and math professionals and I am grateful to the National Science Foundation and the American Physical Society for their commitment to training qualified teachers who, in turn, will assure a stronger future for children in Maryland and across the country."

The project will: (1) directly engage dozens of institutions to prepare greater numbers of highly qualified physics teachers, (2) test the effectiveness of "levers" for engaging physics departments to enable the development of scalable change initiatives, and (3) validate a model for thriving programs that prepare large numbers of highly qualified physics teachers.