UA Students Team Up with K-12 Teachers to Improve Math, Science Classes

Rene Siqueiros
Oct. 2, 2000

The Collaborative for the Advancement of Teaching Technology and Science is helping some University of Arizona students gain valuable teaching experience, while helping improve mathematics and science education in local K-12 schools.

CATTS, a UA Graduate Teaching Fellowship program sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is a partnership between several UA science colleges and local school districts designed to integrate science, mathematics, engineering and technology research into K-12 education. It places graduate and undergraduate students majoring in these fields in a classroom setting where they can share their research knowledge with K-12 educators and students.

"They go into classrooms and work with teachers as a science resource. They
may direct activities involving scientific inquiry. They may also do some teacher training, collaborating with teachers, and help develop (scientific) activities," Nancy Regens, the program's coordinator said.

UA outreach departments and local K-12 schools or school districts submit proposals, in which they will become potential partners with CATTS, where fellows can practice inquiry-based teaching. An executive board then determines which projects will be funded. CATTS can fund up to 14 projects.

After the projects are selected, CATTS recruits one graduate and one undergraduate student for each project. Graduates selected for the fellowship get an $18,000 stipend and a tuition waver, and undergraduates get $9,000. Partners pay one half of the stipend of each fellow involved in their program, and the NSF pays the other half.

Fellows work 15 hours a week, year round, during the fellowship, 10 of which must be in direct contact in the classroom, and the other five developing activities or discussing material with teachers, Regens said.

This year, CATTS funded 10 projects and granted fellowships to 9 graduates and 8 undergraduates.

In one of the projects, the Earth Science/Mineral Education program, fellows work with school district personnel to help enhance the Earth Materials unit taught to all TUSD 4th graders. They work in the classroom helping teachers and students to learn about rocks and minerals.

Regens sees this relationship between the UA and local schools as a mutually beneficial partnership. Partners, or proposal writers, and teachers get the know-how of UA science majors, and fellows get hands on experience in the schoolroom.

"A lot of K-6 teachers haven't been exposed to much science education because there is such a strong emphasis on reading and writing. So sometimes they're a little scared about what to do in this area. We're hoping that our science experts will give them the boost they need," Regens said.

Regens is confident that the CATTS program will also cultivate in fellows a greater understanding of the education process that will extend into their future aspirations.

"They will get a chance to use their science expertise in the classroom and also get exposed to educational style of inquiry, and hopefully they'll make a commitment to K-12 education. If they become teachers along the way, they'll have a better idea of how to teach- having experienced a different way to teach, not just the lecture style. They may then use some of these learned techniques when they teach at college level, community college level, or just adult education," Regens said.

CATTS is currently seeking applicants for fellowships and partnerships for next year. The deadline for fellowships is Nov. 1.

Applications can be found on-line at


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