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Tampa Tribune: Letter of the Day: Investing in Students and the Economy

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

By Rebecca Waggett, PhD

As a faculty member at the University of Tampa, I have dedicated my life to advancing scientific knowledge for myself and my students. Having held the roles of both student and instructor, I have seen firsthand the difficulties presented to today’s educators in teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects and sparking interest in the minds of their students. In our current state of technological advancement and economic growth, it is imperative that Florida produces graduates skilled in STEM areas to ensure that our state remains a leader in scientific and technologically-based industries.

Ensuring the proper education of our students begins with educating our teachers. As part of my work with the University of Tampa, I help coordinate the Science Math Master (SM2) program. SM2 is a resource currently being offered to educators of STEM subjects through a partnership between the University of Tampa and the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida. This dynamic professional development program is aimed at improving the way high school educators teach science and math-related subjects by sharing interactive and engaging hands-on techniques paired with online resources. Honing teachers’ skills in STEM subjects allows them to more actively and effectively engage students, encouraging young Floridians to seek higher education and career paths in STEM fields.

Educators in the Tampa Bay area will have the opportunity to participate in the SM2 Summer Institute Series during the weeks of June 17-20 and June 24-27 at the University of Tampa’s main campus. The future of our state is in the hands of our students. Providing young Floridians with high-quality educational experiences and helping educators who have mastered the subjects expand their knowledge will increase learning potential and student interest in STEM subjects. Working together, we can ensure this investment will pay off for our students and our state.

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