Maia Tice ’22 receives STEM teaching scholarship from NASA

Maia Tice ’22 has been named a recipient of NASA’s STEM Pre-Service Teacher Education Scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year.

An aspiring high school math teacher, Maia Tice ’22 hopes to one day create an engaging classroom with lessons that help her future students form meaningful connections to the curriculum.

“I think that a lot of math classes are very formulaic,” Tice said. “My goal is to make my class really interactive and engage every one of my students.”

Thanks to a recent honor, the Teaching Fellow, who is pursuing a mathematics degree with a teaching licensure, will have the opportunity to learn from some of the most engaging educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Tice has been named a recipient of NASA’s 2020-21 STEM Pre-Service Teacher Education Scholarship. Under the mentorship of Associate Professor of Mathematics Aaron Trocki, Tice crafted her proposal to participate in the highly-selective experience.

The scholarship and accompanying program support future teachers enrolled in STEM-related teacher education programs as undergraduate students. Scholarship recipients are granted unique access to NASA education specialists and materials to prepare them to bring NASA knowledge and resources into their future classrooms.

The scholarship promotes science education in K-12 classrooms, helps future STEM teachers prepare to teach K-12 students, and equips pre-service teachers with the tools they need to succeed. The award includes a $3,500 stipend and paid travel through the North Carolina Space Grant.

Tice says the scholarship was a welcomed surprise following months of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was in New Zealand during spring 2020, preparing to student teach as a part of a study abroad program. But as COVID-19 restrictions tightened across the island nation, Tice was forced to remain out of the classroom. Months later, NASA has presented her with an incredible opportunity to prepare to teach the next generation of STEM enthusiasts.

“I was just so happy, my heart just kind of fluttered,” said Tice about learning she’d received the scholarship. “It’s been a really tough year, and a lot of things haven’t gone as planned. It’s great knowing that even though our world has changed a lot, you can still have really meaningful and impactful experiences.”

Tice and other scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to complete a number of NASA STEM Digital Badges that include modules on incorporating earth and space, technology, engineering and math into unique lesson plans. Recipients also take part in webinars led by NASA education specialists. The program culminates in a group trip to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia where students learn about NASA research.

With so many unique opportunities lying ahead, Tice is excited to learn from some of the world’s top STEM experts about new ways to teach math in her future classroom.

“With this scholarship I’m going to grow so much,” Tice said. “I’m learning about STEM and I’m learning about content that I can apply in my classroom. As an educator, I will never stop learning, and this experience is really going to expand my knowledge so that I can share it with my future students.”