CORVALLIS - A new three-year, $300,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust will allow Oregon State University to more than double its output of science teachers in the next few years, helping to address a looming shortage of such teachers around Oregon.

The grant will support the hiring of several "master teachers" who have recently worked in the public school system to enhance the educational programs in the Department of Mathematics and Science Education in OSU's College of Science.

"There's a critical shortage of teachers for our public schools who are properly trained in both science and teaching science, and the Murdock Trust sees this as a serious concern for Oregon's future," said Margaret Niess, professor and director of Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation. "Their generous grant will allow us to bring some of the finest science teachers in Oregon into our educational program and give our graduates an outstanding education."

Niess said her department anticipates the number of science teachers completing the science and mathematics teacher preparation program should increase from about 20 per year to almost 50 per year, most of them with a master's degree in science education. They will find jobs teaching science in grades three to 12 in Oregon schools, but work mostly in middle and high schools around the state, she said.

The master teachers who will help boost the OSU educational efforts all will have at least 15 years of experience teaching science, Niess said, and recent public school teaching experience that will help OSU students gain insights into the current educational atmosphere of schools around the state. OSU students will gain special training in how to teach physics, chemistry, biology and integrated science.

OSU operates a "subject specific" science education program that is the only one of its type in the state, is highly successful and allows students to develop solid educational specialties in teaching science and mathematics that they can take into Oregon schools.

The first new master teachers will join OSU's educational programs this fall, Niess said.

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Margaret Niess, 541-737-1818