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Project ASPIRES at Georgia Southern addresses need for more math and science majors
$1 million grant helps with retention, academic achievement in science
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    A report issued recently by the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) estimates that American elementary and secondary schools will need 280,000 new science and math teachers between now and 2015. A recent government-commissioned study concluded that the United States’ advantage in science and technology has begun to disappear because fewer people are choosing college majors in these areas.
    Georgia Southern University is responding to the need and already has seen increases in the number of students who pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors.
    In August 2006 Georgia Southern received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to create ASPIRES (Advisement and Scholarship Promoting Inquiry-based Research Experiences in STEM). ASPIRES is designed to help produce the math, science, and technology graduates that will help keep Georgia competitive.
    “We are encouraging students to consider a major in one of the STEM disciplines, and then we want to make sure that they remain interested and engaged until they graduate,” said Georgia Southern professor Mary Boyd, chair of the chemistry department and director of ASPIRES. “By doing these things, we can ensure our nation has the educated work force in science and technology that we need to be competitive in the coming years.”
    Project ASPIRES focuses on inquiry-based active learning, student support and academic achievement, student/faculty engagement, and faculty professional development.
    “We keep students interested in the STEM disciplines by demonstrating that what they are studying relates to the real world, to careers they are considering, and by challenging them in the classroom and the lab,” said Bret Danilowicz, dean of the College of Science and Technology.
    In the 2006-2007 academic year more than 650 first-year STEM students were impacted by the project. ASPIRES will eventually result in an additional 140 STEM graduates each year.
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