Mid-September marked the rollout of two major reports on the future of science education. A proposal from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recommends a two pronged approach to improve K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. “We must prepare students so they have a strong foundation in STEM subjects and are able to use this knowledge in their personal and professional lives,” wrote Dr. John Holdren and Dr. Eric Lander, co-chairs of PCAST, in their introduction to the report. “And we must inspire students so that all are motivated to study STEM subjects in school and many are excited about the prospect of having careers in STEM fields.”
The report, “Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education for America’s Future,” includes calls for improving state science and math education standards, and teacher recruitment and preparation. The report also acknowledges that the federal government lacks a coherent strategy for K-12 STEM education within its multitude of science ed programs.
Meanwhile, a report from the National Science Board focuses on identifying and developing the next generation of STEM workers. “Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators” considers all levels of education and recommends improvements in three areas: providing opportunities for excellence, casting a wide net for potential talent, and fostering a supportive environment. Although the report does not offer recommendations as specific as those made by PCAST, both take the approach of encouraging engagement in STEM fields by girls and minorities, and providing students with opportunities to engage in hands on science.
To read the PCAST report, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/pcast/docsreports. To read the report from the National Science Board, visit http://www.nsf.gov/nsb.
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