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Professors receive grant to promote early childhood math and science education


Despite the dreary Northeast Ohio weather, the sun was certainly shining last week for professors Beth Clark-Thomas and Nancy Varian last week when they were notified by the Ohio Department of Higher Education that their grant proposal, SUNBEAMS (Students Understanding the Natural World by Broadening the Education and Applications of Math and Science) was selected as one of 20 Improving Teacher Quality Grants for 2017-2018.

The $133,855 award will be used to extend the critically acclaimed work initiated several years ago as a result of previous grant awards.  SUNBEAMS allows professors from the School of Education & Human Development to partner with local urban Prekindergarten and Kindergarten teachers by providing training, materials, resources, and ongoing support in the areas of math and science instruction at the early childhood level. 

This summer, 30 teaching teams will participate in training workshops for graduate credit, then implement ideas and strategies in the models and methods they will be learning. 

"SUNBEAMS truly changed my life and my students' lives,” said Canton City teacher Elizabeth Angeli. “It sparked my students' love for science and provided them with hands-on involvement; real experiments and experiences that would not have been made feasible without the SUNBEAMS program. The SUNBEAMS contributed to the success of the underserved population in my classroom. The spark of curiosity caused by SUNBEAMS wound its way through every part of our days, making learning engaging and exciting."

The project is co-directed by Beth Clark-Thomas, Ph.D., professor of elementary education and Nancy Varian, Ph.D., director of the Malone University School of Education Center for Professional Development. 

“Nancy and I are thrilled to be able to reach out to area teachers,” said Clark-Thomas, “and we have invited previous participants who are eager to serve as teacher leaders in this new round of funding made possible by the generous support of the Ohio Department of Higher Education's Improving Teacher Quality grant!”