From science research to science teaching: how to pay for a change

When I was a post-doc, I spent a few months seriously thinking about changing careers and teaching high school. I might have followed through on that plan, too, but I didn't know how to pay for it.

Today, if you have a background in science, technology, math, or engineering, you can retrain to become a teacher and the National Science Foundation will help. The Robert Noyce scholarship program has funds to help ease that transition to the classroom.

From the NSF web site:

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The program provides funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends, and academic programs for undergraduate STEM majors and post-baccalaureate students holding STEM degrees who commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts. A new component of the program supports STEM professionals who enroll as NSF Teaching Fellows in master's degree programs leading to teacher certification by providing academic courses, professional development, and salary supplements while they are fulfilling a four-year teaching commitment in a high need school district. This new component also supports the development of NSF Master Teaching Fellows by providing professional development and salary supplements for exemplary math and science teachers to become Master Teachers in high-need school districts.

The only downside is that you cannot apply for this yourself. You will have to do some research to find a school that's received this kind of funding.

If you are interested in this program, go to this page at the NSF site and scroll to the bottom to find a link to Abstracts of Recent Awards Made Through This Program. It's possible that this link, I added here will also work.

This search will give you a list of schools that have scholarship money to help you change careers. When you've found this list, click the word "State" in the corresponding column to sort the answers by state and look for your state. When you find your state, look for nearby schools. When you find a school, copy the name of the principal investigator, the title of the program and the name of the institution. Then, use Google to find the institution. Contact the PI on the grant and find out what you need to do to apply for the program.

This sounds like a bit of work, but if you want to be a science teacher, the National Science Foundation wants to help you do it.

You can do good things in many ways, this could be one.

Extra info: If your nearby college does not have any Robert Noyce funding, they can apply for the program.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is hosting two (2) outreach workshops to provide information about submitting a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. These workshops are located in Phoenix, Arizona and Atlanta, Georgia. (These workshops are NOT ONLINE workshops.)

Workshop Locations:

Phoenix, Arizona
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Beginning at 9am and concluding at 2pm
Sheraton Crescent Hotel
2620 W. Dunlap Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85021
602) 943-8200
hotel link :…

Atlanta, Georgia
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Beginning at 9am and concluding at 2pm
Atlanta Sheraton Gateway Hotel…
Guest Room Rate: $119.00 (govt rate)

Registration for the workshop is available at:

Due Dates for Letter of Intent & Proposals
Letter of Intent Deadline Date: February 9, 2010
Full Proposal Deadline Date: March 10, 2010

More information about the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program can be located at

The 2010 NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Solicitation 09-513 can be located at


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Thanks for posting this!

I'm curious about the salary supplements - what are typical salaries for high school science teachers?

There's considerable variation by state, degree, and years of service. In Washington, a beginning science teacher, with a Master's degree would start at 41K and with a PhD, at 46K. Keep in mind, if this seems low, K12 teachers have a bit more vacation time than most professions, with 2 months off in the summer (although, to be fair, this time is often spent on continuing education).

Here's the link to the Washington data (pdf).

Richard P. Feynman used to say something like that: if you really know something, you are able to teach it to your grandma