MSU Alumni Foundation
1501 South 11th Avenue
P.O. Box 172750
Bozeman, MT 59717-2750
Tel: (406) 994-2053
Toll Free: (800) 457-1696
Fax: (406) 994-6081
President & CEO
Toyota USA Foundation Awards $312,176 to Support MSU Math and Science Initiative
BOZEMAN, Montana -- The Toyota USA Foundation has awarded $312,176 to Montana State University to support the College of Engineering’s Teaching Engineering Applications in Math and Science (TEAMS), an innovative program to enhance teaching of K-12 math and science in and around Montana’s American Indian communities.
Through TEAMS, MSU will partner with K-12 teachers at schools on or near Montana’s seven Native American reservations to use engineering applications to teach students how to use math and science to solve problems. The program will partner with one middle school on each of the seven reservations and one middle school in a town bordering each. Educators will learn ways to better teach Montana and National Math and Science Standards and Benchmarks by adding examples of how engineers apply math and science to solve problems.
“TEAMS is unique because it combines an academic curriculum with a ‘people building’ curriculum,” said Sheree Watson, program director for Designing Our Community, a program to recruit and retain Native American students. "TEAMS helps teachers move from teaching math and science concepts to teaching students how they can use math and science to improve the quality of life for themselves, their families and communities, whether they need to build better roads, safer drinking water systems, or sturdier houses."
According to Watson, engineering is not a common career choice for American Indians because few learn about engineering in school. Her program seeks to remedy that by working with Montana's tribal colleges and reservation public schools to find students with a yen for math and science and a desire for a good job.
"Students and teachers better understand math and science concepts when they use engineering applications. They also learn about what engineers do, about engineering career options, and how to best prepare for an engineering career. All great programs need great financial partners and we are proud that the Toyota USA Foundation is joining us as we prepare students to thrive in a global economy, especially if they choose to live in Montana.”
Serving Montana’s rural Native American populations is critical to MSU as the state’s only land grant institution. Montana’s Native American population is especially at risk for economic hardships. As of 2006, only reservation schools were among Montana’s 33 schools that failed to meet No Child Left Behind standards. More than half of Montana’s Native American students who enter kindergarten fail to graduate high school and only 12 percent of American Indians living on reservations have secondary education degrees.
In May 2008, MSU’s College of Engineering had a record number of Native American students graduating, largely because of the Designing Our Community program, started in 2003 with a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
According to the American Society for Engineering Education, American Indian students comprise less than one percent of engineering graduates in the United States. Since MSU received the Hewlett grant, it has become one of the nation’s top universities in graduating Native American engineers. MSU officials say that this year's number of graduates will likely rank MSU among the nation’s top five universities in the number of annual Indian graduates.
The Toyota USA Foundation is a $40 million charitable endowment created to support innovative education programs serving kindergarten through 12th grade, with special emphasis in the areas of mathematics and science. For additional information about the Toyota USA Foundation, visit www.toyota.com/foundation.