This project is an initiative in the State of Qatar aimed at raising the bar in math and science education for elementary school children. Fostering development, advancement, and innovation are at the heart of Qatar’s national vision. ExxonMobil developed this professional development program for teachers who play a crucial role in ensuring students are ready to compete in today’s global environment. The academy which is a collaboration with Qatar University and Exxon Mobil, equips teachers with the necessary tools and strategies to create enthusiasm about math and science and helps develop the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of Science and Mathematics graduates who will then pursue Engineering, Medicine and related fields in Qatar.
The Qatar University ExxonMobil Teachers Academy is modeled after the successful Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy (MEMTA), which has trained more than 3,600 teachers across the United States since 2006. The need for such an academy was felt in the U.S. as the number of young people pursuing careers in fields like medicine, computing and energy was decreasing. Believing this trend can be reversed, ExxonMobil partnered with professional golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife Amy to launch the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy in 2005. Two of the leading teacher-training organizations in the U.S., Math Solutions Professional Development and The National Science Teachers Association, design the curriculum needed.
The first QUEMTA was held form June 24 to 28, 2012 with forty-four school teachers participating. These Mathematics and Science teachers who taught grades three to five were from twenty Independent schools. The selection was done based on their qualifications, proficiency in English and overall dedication and commitment to enhancing educational experiences for students. Teachers were led to build their expertise in facilitating student learning through problem solving and inquiry through the connections between Mathematics and Science. Emphasis was laid on planning all lessons using the 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate) enquiry based strategy. Note-booking was a practice that was stressed on. Teachers in schools supported by NCED have begun planning lessons using the 5E strategy even in subjects other than mathematics and science. Teachers reflect and opinion that this strategy has made their lessons more meaningful and engaging for students, where they are able to link new ideas and learning to their experiences and the real world.
In summer 2012, the first two NCED professional development specialists took part in the MEMTA training held in New Jersey, USA along with 200 teachers from schools around the USA. Last summer (June, 2013) a team of 4 NCED PDS along with 2 Qatari mathematics and science teachers will participate in the MEMTA training at Houston, USA. The second QUEMTA session was held in November, 2014 here in Qatar with about 45 elementary mathematics and science school teachers from the independent schools participating.
This was only the beginning. QUEMTA will happen every year with as many teachers or more being trained at each session. Qatar has great hopes for research and scientific research is a vital piece of Qatar University’s strategic plan. This plan can be achieved only if there exists a steady flow of excited and capable students, and that is QUEMTA’s goal. Through its yearly sessions, QUEMTA aims at infecting students in developing this passion for Mathematics and Science through their teachers.