“We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”
Those were some of the inspiring words by President Barack Obama at the launching of the new “Educate to Innovate” campaign…this week. This initiative aims to increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy amongst students to improve our national standing from average (or in some cases, below average) to the top. $4.35 billion in Federal grants will be offered to schools who can innovate in STEM education and the private sector is stepping up with an additional $260 million in related funding and programs.
And this all couldn’t come at a better time. A recent survey by Intel showed that parents would rather talk to their kids about drugs than math and science. And while public and private sector funding is nice to have, one key to this initiative are the innovative new programs that reach out to inspire both kids and parents looking to get more involved. At the start of this campaign, five public private partnerships were announced which vary in terms of content and outreach in an effort to reach the broadest spectrum of young people possible…
It’s also great to see that the White House will continue to be a platform for increasing visibility on STEM education through hosting events that involve and challenge students to excel. A couple of months ago the White House held an Astronomy Night that not only focused on stargazing but focused on young students who had made important astronomical discoveries. And going forward there are plans to begin hosting a science fair that showcase national winners. Events like these that focus on and involve students and the important contributions they can make even at an early level can be an inspiration to young people everywhere…
The consensus is that this is a step in the right direction. Additional funding – especially funding tied to merits of new ideas and not just performance – will help foster innovation in how we teach the next generation of kids about math, science, engineering and technology. And these partnerships with the private sector will hopefully succeed in offering additional exposure to students both in the classroom and after school.
Read additional information about “Educate to Innovate” at whitehouse.gov.
Overdue – is hardly the word. It’s been 40 years or more since American students stopped learning to read. Encouraging science and math – praiseworthy – will likely affect less than 5% of the potential base.