A new natural science education major will give students like Christina Mitchell of Wausau an opportunity to add a science topic emphasis in addition to a major and minor. Photo courtesy University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

STEVENS POINT – University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will offer a new science education degree this fall, one of the first in the University of Wisconsin System.

The natural science for science teaching certification is a collaborative bachelor’s degree program. Students will take core science courses and select a minor in one of those disciplines and a certificate in an additional field of science.

“This program better prepares students to effectively teach to the interdisciplinary nature of science,” said Krista Slemmons, associate professor of biology and coordinator of the new program, in a news release. “Of critical importance, it also addresses the need for qualified science teachers in school districts across the state.”

The most recent Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction report on school staffing cited chronic staffing shortages across many disciplines, including science. Teacher shortages were most pronounced in northern Wisconsin school districts and in science, technology, math (STEM) fields. Fifty percent of school districts described their teacher shortage as “extreme.”

Christina Mitchell of Wausau is one of the students who will help meet this teacher need soon. She is majoring in natural science life education, has a minor in biology with licensure in chemistry and environmental studies.

The broad array of science coursework natural science majors will take provides ample knowledge to teach any science discipline in grades 4-12 and also allows students to focus on an area of emphasis.

“We’re one of the first institutions in the UW System to offer this program, and it will help fill the void of much-needed science educators in our state,” said Jason D’Acchioli, assistant dean, School of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry.

For more information, visit the science education website.