White House Announces Effort to Improve Science, Math Education
November 23, 2009 -- President Obama today announced a new nationwide effort to create public-private partnerships to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and encourage more students to pursue careers in these fields. The campaign, called Educate to Innovate, will focus on mobilizing resources to help already-successful programs reach more young people and on using media such as video games and television to aid learning in math and science, among other goals.
According to the White House, the new partnerships are part of a response to President Obama’s call for an initiative to raise American students "from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math over the next decade," which he issued in a speech to the National Academy of Sciences last April.
A 2005 report from the National Academies, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, urged improvements in K-12 STEM education to keep the U.S. economically competitive. Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett, an NAE member who served on the committee that wrote Gathering Storm, is one of the private-sector leaders who have pledged to aid the new White House initiative.
The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Research Council have a long history of efforts to improve STEM education, including developing theNational Science Education Standards, which describe what all students should understand and be able to do in science. Many additional reports -- for example, Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8 and Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects -- have explored how to improve education in these fields, and efforts such as the Teacher Advisory Council have sought ways to improve professional development for teachers.
Other publications examine science learning beyond the classroom, one focus of the Educate to Innovate initiative. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits examines how children and adults learn about science in informal ways -- for example, through zoos, museums, after-school programs, and television programs. A companion guide, Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments, offers educators practical suggestions for aiding learning in these settings.White House press release