In June, two St. Cloud State University STEM Education students were invited to attend and present their research at the 2023 National Science Foundation (NSF) NOYCE Summit.
Students Janey Peterson and Owen Lewis attended the summit, which is an annual event held in Washington, D.C. for recipients of NSF NOYCE Scholarships. The summit is an opportunity for future educators to meet and network with fellow NOYCE scholars to share their research and learned experiences in the field.
When Peterson, a senior double majoring in Mathematics and Math Education with a minor in Statistics, started at SCSU, she was told about the NOYCE Scholarship by her advisor, Dr. Melissa B. Hanzsek-Brill. Peterson said that the scholarship “has given me financial relief in that I don’t have to worry about how I am going to pay for school every semester,” which has helped her focus on her studies and research.
At the summit, Peterson presented her research titled “utilizing game-based learning to create culturally relevant geometry problems in a 10th-grade classroom,” which aims to help students learn the concept of central angles in a circle and pi ratio through a game involving sports balls. The most impactful moment of the summit for Peterson was hearing from the Assistant Director for the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation, Dr. James Moore. Dr. Moore spoke about the teacher shortage in the U.S. and the importance of teachers who have a passion for not just their subject but also for positively impacting their student’s lives.
For Peterson, the speech put the importance of her future career into perspective and reminded her of a saying she often tells herself and those around her: “not every great mathematician has to be a great math teacher and a great math teacher is not only a great mathematician, but also driven to help students understand the fun and excitement of mathematics.”
Lewis is a double major of Physics Education and Physics at SCSU. With his double major, Lewis feels he has a deeper understanding of physics than he would with just physics education. “[this deeper understanding] will allow me to better set my students up for the future,” he said.
For Lewis, the summit was a remarkable opportunity to connect with other future educators. Specifically, Lewis shared a few meals with a group from Texas. This was something that he said was “a cool moment because even though we live far away, we are all bound by our love of teaching.” Lewis’ presentation highlighted his research on the readiness of pre-service teachers to handle LGBTQ+ issues in their future schools and classrooms. His research came to the conclusion that many upcoming teachers do not feel prepared or are not knowledgeable on LGBTQ+ issues as they head into their field. Lewis concludes that the underlying issue is that “some pre-service teachers are simply uniformed about LGBTQ+ topics. Their history, the community in general and what challenges they face are all things that we can talk about more.”
With several events and presentations over a three-day period, the NSF NOYCE Summit helps connect NOYCE scholars with colleagues in the field and helps to foster their love for teaching. Opportunities like these are priceless experiences for students like Peterson and Lewis.