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University of Florida gets $2 million to boost STEM Education in Florida

University of Florida boost STEM Education

The Florida Department of Education officials announced that University of Florida has been awarded with $2 million to help boost STEM education in the state. The university is introducing a statewide program to enhance teaching and learning in the fields of STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the middle school as well as high school grades.

The Department of Economic Opportunity report released on 16th October, 2012 stated that there were around 64,000 online job offers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math in September 2012. The job openings in these fields have shown 9 percent increment since September 2011 as per the data released by the Help Wanted OnLine report from The Conference Board.

Governor Rick Scott is stressing on increasing the degree programs offered in the STEM fields by the universities and high schools. In a press release, Scott stated that jobs in the STEM fields include high skill positions that help in economic growth and diversity. He added that the increase in STEM-related field jobs indicates that Florida is leading in the industrial growth. He believes that if more STEM graduates are produced by the Florida universities and schools, companies will get attracted to the state and there will be more high paying jobs created.

The university has planned a two years program called as 'Florida STEM-Teacher Induction and Professional Support' or 'Florida STEM-TIPS Center'. In this induction program, teachers will be offered face-to-face and online mentoring, training and professional development and networking opportunities. Center staff and faculty assistance for partnering school districts will be provided to start the coaching programs for science and math trainee teachers.

Griffith Jones, an education professor at University of Florida will be managing the development of the induction activities. He added that the induction activities will begin in Duval, Dade and Palm Beach counties which already include local school district partners of university. When the induction activities turn successful, the program will be expanded in other regions of the state. Jones said that the induction activities will ensure that the teachers-in-training will continue to get the training and collegial support even in their first two years of teaching.

The university professors will develop a web-based platform so that they can get together and share information which will help the educators to connect with others located in the state. They will also visit other universities in state to share their information related to the professional STEM teacher training program 'UTeach' which will act as a model for the 'UFTeach' program developed by the University of Florida. The UTeach model was developed by the professors of University of Texas-Austin in 1997 which hires excellent math and science majors in the teaching field by providing creative courses with experiencing complications in teaching those subjects in the district schools.

Since Florida is providing array of job opportunities in the fields related to STEM, the government is encouraging more courses related to these fields in the universities and high schools in Florida. This two year training program for teachers will train them to create professionals in the STEM fields and will generate more high paying jobs by luring the companies to the state.