A Pittsburgh nonprofit has won a federal grant to expand its teacher training program.
ASSET, Inc. will use the $22.3 million endowment to establish several professional development centers and satellite sites across Pennsylvania, along with $4 million in required matching funds.
ASSET Executive Director Karen Sobehart says her organization will target science teachers and students in kindergarten through eighth grade at rural or low-income school districts. That’s almost identical to the mission of the state’s “Science: It’s Elementary” program, which is also designed and managed by ASSET.
Sobehart says the program makes science classes more interactive with live specimens and equipment for experiments. Sobehart notes it’s also important to pre-train educators in this method, hence the regional teacher training centers.
Sobehart says research shows that children who feel comfortable with science by age eleven are more likely to pursue it later in life.
“We really have to start the pipeline at the beginning, at kindergarten or even pre-kindergarten for that matter, so we can get the kids, by the time they’re eleven, not only understanding the subjects, but also by completing the subjects the students build their own belief in themselves.”
Sobehart says students in ASSET programs score higher on standardized tests than children in comparable districts, not just in science, but math and reading as well.
ASSET was one of 49 organizations nationwide to receive a grant. Children’s Learning Initiative of Philadelphia has also received a grant from the Investing in Education Fund, part of the 2009 federal stimulus package.