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Bayer report calls for bigger commitment to STEM education
by Stem Support - Thursday, April 26, 2012, 09:56 AM
 

By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

WASHINGTON, D.C.Bayer Corporation has unveiled a new report titled, “STEM Education, Science Literacy and the Innovation Workforce in America: Analysis and Insights from the Bayer Facts of Science Education Surveys 1995-2011.”

The report, the newest component of the company’s Making Science Make Sense program, became available on Thursday at Bayer’s STEM Diversity and Higher Education Forum held in Washington.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The report is a compilation of 15 years of Bayer Facts of Science Education public opinion research surveys, which have taken the pulse of American attitudes about timely issues related to science and technology, science education, and more recently, STEM diversity and underrepresentation.

The surveys have polled various audiences, including the nation’s Ph.D. scientists and science teachers; STEM department chairs at the country’s leading research universities; Fortune 1000 STEM company CEOs, corporate human resource directors and other business leaders; and deans of colleges and universities, as well as parents, students and the general public.

“Taken together, the surveys offer an important snapshot of American public opinion on virtually every phase of the STEM continuum from elementary school through undergraduate/graduate education and the STEM workplace,” said Rebecca Lucore, Executive Director, Bayer USA Foundation, and head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Bayer Corporation.

“The new report identifies key intersections of thought, belief and concern among these diverse stakeholders and we believe the trends that have emerged are important and instructive for those working in the STEM arena,” she added.

In mapping the nearly two decades of research, the report reveals 15 beliefs held universally by the stakeholders.

Here are the top 10:

1. Science literacy is critical for all Americans young and old, scientist or non-scientist.

2. U.S. global economic leadership and competitiveness are intrinsically linked to a robust science and technology innovation pipeline and workforce.

3. America’s future STEM leadership is dependent on the country’s ability to recruit and retain more women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians (underrepresented minorities) in STEM fields.

4. Science interest and ability are color-blind and gender-neutral: from an early age, boys and girls of all races, and ethnic backgrounds are interested in science.

5. Parents and teachers are critically important to nurturing children’s science interest, even if they themselves are not scientists or don’t have all the answers.

6. In elementary school, science should be the “4th R” and given the same emphasis as reading, writing, and mathematics.

7. A hands-on, minds-on approach to science education is the best way for students to learn science and build crucial science literacy skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to work in teams.

8. Students and teachers benefit from having direct access to scientists and engineers on a regular basis in the classroom.

9. America’s leading research colleges and universities should rethink how they define academic success when it comes to undergraduate STEM students.

10. America’s STEM industries and communities need to more effectively communicate with all of today’s students about a range of issues including job opportunities, and the fact that they are wanted and needed in these jobs.

To learn the remaining five beliefs from this study, view the online version of the full report.

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STEM Education Update: MSP Appropriations, OSTP STEM Inventory, NGA Reports and More
by Stem Support - Tuesday, January 3, 2012, 05:06 PM
 

by Jodi Peterson
Chair, STEM Education Coalition

James Brown
Executive Director
STEM Education Coalition



Appropriations:

First, the final Omnibus conference agreement that passed Congress in mid December for FY2012 federal funding included $150 million for the Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnership program, meaning the program has survived FY2012. Although this is roughly $25 million below the FY2011 funding level, keep in mind that the House of Representatives proposed to eliminate this program. We would like to thank the ALMOST 2000 PEOPLE who used the STEM Education Coalition Legislative Action website and sent letters to the Hill, asking lawmakers to make STEM education funding a national priority and to support this program.http://www.congressweb.com/cweb2/index.cfm/siteid/stemedcoalition


Federal STEM Programs:

As expected the Office of Science and Technology Policy interagency Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) has issued their detailed inventory of Federal agencies’ spending on STEM education (link to report is below). The inventory found that Federal agencies are making some 252 distinct investments in STEM education for a total budgetary commitment of $3.4 billion. From the report: “Our analysis indicates that the critical issue related to Federal investments in STEM education is not whether the total number of investments is too large or whether today’s programs are overly redundant with one another. Rather, the primary issue is how to strategically focus the limited Federal dollars available so they will have a more significant impact in areas of national priority.” The report suggests there may be a number of possible approaches to improving the Federal STEM education portfolio including: consolidating programs, creating joint solicitations across agencies, and developing structures and procedures for sharing program data and performance measurement and evaluation tools. A five year Federal STEM education strategic plan that will “help Federal agencies contribute to improved STEM education in an effective and well-coordinated manner” is expected out in early 2012. Stay tuned.http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/costem__federal_stem_education_portfolio_report.pdf


National Governors Association (NGA) Report on STEM:

Last week the NGA released Building a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education Agenda, focused on strengthening science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Issues discussed in the 44 page report include: Goals of the STEM Agenda; What the STEM Agenda is Important; Weak Links in the System; Implementing a State STEM Agenda; and Moving Forward. Stay tuned.

http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/1112STEMGUIDE.PDF;jsessionid=CC905C5294F348DC62BD60C135BC12F2


NGA Report on Teacher Compensation:

The NGA 17 page issue brief, New Models of Teacher Compensation: Lessons Learned from Six States, is based on the discussions during a policy academy with governors and state leaders. The report includes key recommendations that governors and other state leaders should consider when developing new teacher compensation systems.

http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/1112TEACHERPAY.PDF


Key Congressional Leaders Express Concerns about the Grant Act.

Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and David Price (D-NC) have sent a letter to House leadership outlining their concerns about provisions in H.R. 3433, the Grant Reform and New Transparency Act of 2011, which call for greater transparency and accountability in the federal peer review process. “The Grant Act poses a significant threat to the research and innovation system that produce economic drivers because it includes provisions that undermine the peer review process and attack intellectual property rights.” The letter is attached. Read more about H.R. 3433, the “Grant Reform and New Transparency Act of 2011” http://www.aip.org/fyi/2011/143.html
Thank you for your support of STEM education this year! Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a Peaceful New Year.

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Experts: STEM Education Is All About Jobs
by Stem Support - Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 10:06 AM
 

By Jason Koebler

September 27, 2011

One thing was clear at Tuesday's science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education summit hosted by U.S. News—improving science and math educational achievement is about jobs. Lots of them.

"There's no more important issue in America," U.S. News Chairman Mortimer Zuckerman said.

[Read Zuckerman's column about why STEM is important in the job market.]

Thought leaders, former politicians, and business executives met today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to discuss the STEM education crisis at U.S. News's Making Science Cool: Solving the Shortage of Math and Science Students event this morning. The event coincided with the release of U.S. News's inaugural rankings of the best high schools for math and science.

As America faces a 9 percent unemployment rate, it was clear to panelists that the answer to that problem lies in training a more skilled workforce. Many science and technology companies are struggling to find qualified American citizens to fill STEM-related job openings.

"We worry about jobs that are unfilled—if you can't find the talent here and you're competing globally, what's the answer?" said John Engler, the Business Roundtable president and former governor of Michigan. "You'll have to go somewhere else in the world where that talent is. How will that help the U.S. economy?" He called improving STEM achievement a "moral and economic imperative."

Large companies have been throwing money at the problem in hopes of sparking student interest in science and math, but fashion designer and businessman Marc Ecko and Change the Equation CEO Linda Rosen expressed frustration with lackluster results and the extensive red tape surrounding education reform.

[Learn more about Change the Equation.]

"I've spent a lot of my income trying to fight this fight," Ecko said. Building new curricula, even if they work, has so far been a wasted cause because schools are hesitant or unable to implement them in the classroom, he said. "It's like building the ultimate Dyson vacuum and not having a shelf to sell it on. You know what [our curriculum] becomes? It becomes a nice after-school program."

He said schools and policymakers need to keep up with the quickly changing technological landscape and become more willing to try new things, or the money might dry up.

"Philanthropy and the private sector, there's only so much tolerance they have to keep banging their head into the wall over and over again," he continued. "There's a certain point that the folks on the ground at a local level have to start being less xenophobic. [They say] 'Oh, my kids are good, those kids are the problem,' [The problem is] all of us, folks."

Rosen was more diplomatic but expressed similar sentiments. Her organization is a consortium of more than 100 CEOs who want to spend their money more effectively on quality STEM programs.

"The corporate community has been very generous in their philanthropy. They are frustrated. There's a lot of money, and not lots of results," she said. She pointed out that there are hundreds of organizations focusing on improving STEM achievement, but "you have to assume that not all the programs are equally effective, because the needle hasn't moved sufficiently."

The panelists all agreed on one thing: the importance of improving students' achievement in the field.

Despite the event's name: Making Science Cool, Ecko said the subject doesn't have an image issue—it's simply difficult to get students excited about learning the content. "Kids know science is sufficiently cool. We all saw Star Wars," he said.

While science may be cool, math is another story, according to Tom Luce, former CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative.

"Nobody would say, 'I can't read,' but we feel OK in saying we can't balance our checkbook. We need to get across that we need a STEM-literate population," he said. Luce said that today's equivalent of an auto manufacturing job—a family-supporting job—is working in chip manufacturing at Intel. "Everybody needs to be proficient in algebra if you're going to hold a living-wage job. We need to talk about that. We need to convince the entire country that every child must conquer algebra II."

[Learn more about the STEM teacher shortage.]

The panel continually hit on the fact that many of the STEM-related job openings don't require advanced degrees, but merely require specialized training at a community college or technical school. Gaston Caperton, former West Virginia governor and current president of the College Board, said America's ability to compete against other global leaders will depend on its ability to improve STEM education achievement.

"This is a century that will be defined by our greatest innovators," he said. "The challenge isn't to have the most scientists, it's to have the most creative scientists." But one thing is clear—for every chemist or engineer, there are several technician jobs open to people without advanced degrees.

Academic representatives, including Louisiana State University math professor Scott Baldridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology research scientist Felice Frankel, and True North Troy Preparatory Charter School Principal Paul Powell said they've had success in solving small pieces of the puzzle.

At True North Troy, Powell videotapes successful teachers, then goes over the "game footage" with new teachers to see what works. In Frankel's lab, design students work together with science students to create new products, and at LSU, students pursuing math and science degrees can graduate with a bachelor of science and a teaching certificate, which can help cut down on the number of teachers teaching out of subject area.

Engler summed up the day when he said America needs to show students the job opportunities out there and engage them in STEM.

"I think this country has got a lot of talent on the sidelines," he said. "We have a lot of talent walking around on the street that we need to capture."




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