Texas Instruments gives grant to Santa Clara schools

November 1, 2011 6:27:02 PM PDT
They are known for their graphing calculators, but Texas Instruments is also a major player in semiconductors. The company recently purchased Silicon Valley-based National Semiconductor.

National Semicondutor has been pouring money into several science and math programs at schools in the Silicon Valley. Now, Texas Instruments wants to continue investing locally to help close the achievement gap in math.

At Haman Elementary in Santa Clara, teachers are not only focused on what they are teaching in math, but how kids learn.

"There is the way we did math -- where there are some things you memorize," said Santa Clara Unified Superintendent Bobbie Plough, Ph.D., "but really, the way that you deepen understanding is if students have a chance to use manipulatives, real world examples."

Using smart boards and a hands-on approach, several fourth graders are mastering their fractions. Their teacher has undergone hours of training.

The new program will now be taught to all math teachers in Santa Clara, from third grade to fifth grade.

The program is part of Texas Instruments' "Power of STEM Education" initiative, where STEM stands for "Science, Technology Engineering and Math."

"In this grant, we are focusing on third to fifth grade because if you don't get kids interested by fifth grade, often times you lose them," said Joan Scott with Texas Instruments. "They won't go on to take science and technology and mathematics in high school and beyond."

Santa Clara's 17 elementary schools received a $100,000 grant from Texas Instruments on Tuesday. California's budget cuts have reduced the amount of new programs school districts can implement.

Without the grant, the new math program would not exist.

Tom Torlakson, the state's superintendent of schools, was at Tuesday's grant presentation. California's future depends, in part, on these stem programs, Torlakson said.

"If we can't produce our own engineers, they will be produced in another part of the world," Torlakson said. "The businesses that are in California will leave to go to other parts of the world."

The new math program will be available to 500 teachers in Santa Clara. There could be more money in the future.

Texas Instruments is giving $1 million in grants over the next three years, and the hope is that most of it is in Silicon Valley.


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