on January 4, 2009
Advances in science and technology are changing the way students are educated. During the next decade, the demand for scientists and engineers in the United States is expected to increase at four times the rate of all other occupations. As it is, today's high school students are not pursuing high-demand jobs based in math and science, and even fewer are pursuing degrees in technical fields. And, as new participants enter the world economy, it is vital for the United States to educate students and prepare them to compete in the global job market.
House Bill 1682
Now called Act 1064, HB1682 makes an appropriation of $200,000 to the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority to help fund the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Coalition. The coalition will develop a plan to improve laboratory facilities and enhance learning environments for the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Arkansas K-12 schools.
House Bill 2414
This bill provides for the promotion of economic development by creating a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Fund to increase Arkansas' ability to compete for jobs in the 21st century. The fund was created for the purpose of attracting, recruiting and retaining qualified teachers in STEM subjects and will provide competitive salaries to qualified teachers.
Senate Bill 885
SB885 creates a Career and Technical Education Program within the Hawaii Department of Education. The program will provide students with specific skills needed to enter today's workforce, namely pathway programs of study in areas such as graphic design, computer networking and information systems; academies for science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and school activities focusing on robotics and spatial technology.
House Bill 220
HB220 creates the Mathematics and Science Bureau that will develop a statewide strategic plan for mathematics and science education in the state of New Mexico. The bureau will recommend funding mechanisms that support the improvement of mathematics and science education in the state, including Web-based mathematics and science curricula, mentoring and Web-based homework assistance. The bill also creates a mathematics and science proficiency fund for awarding public schools, school districts, post-secondary educational institutions and persons that implement innovative, research-based mathematics and science curricula and professional development programs.
Senate Bill 217
This bill expands an information science and technology education program within the Governor's Office of Economic Development. The State Advisory Council on Science and Technology will advise the program. As an ongoing appropriation, subject to future budget constraints, the bill appropriates $50,000 from the general fund. The program aims to: provide informal science and technology-based education to elementary and secondary students, expose public education students to college-level science and technology disciplines, administer a science and technology camp program and provide other informal promotions of science and technology education, including the direct sponsorship of science fairs and science olympiads.
House Bill 1779
In an effort to promote science and mathematics education, the state of Washington will award scholarships to students who excel in science and mathematics on state tests. The program will specifically target students who achieve level four on the mathematics or science portions of the 10th-grade Washington assessment test or who achieve a score above the 95th percentile in the math section of the SAT or ACT assessment tests.
House Bill 1906
HB1906 makes a number of additions and changes to STEM education in the state. The bill:
- creates an afterschool mathematics support program to study the effects of intentional, skilled mathematics support;
- creates a mathematics and science instructional coach demonstration project;
- directs an independent review of the mathematics and science learning standards;
- requires the superintendent of public instruction to identify three mathematics and science curricula for each grade and directs the State Board of Education to identify conditions under which school districts will be required to follow the curricula; and
- provides two new alternative routes to teacher certification for mathematics and science teachers.
For more information on STEM initiatives, see the National Conference of State Legislatures at www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/educ_leg.cfm.
Why America needs more scientists and engineers
The United States has some tough competition ahead. While often thought of as the leader in scientific advancements, the United States needs to keep pace with other countries cultivating the next generation of engineers and scientists. Consider the following:
- If today's trends continue, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers in the world will be living in Asia by 2010.
- More than half of all engineering doctoral degrees awarded in the United States are to foreign nationals.
- The number of engineering degrees awarded in the United States has decreased by 20 percent since 1985.
- More than 50 percent of the nation's current science and engineering workforce is approaching retirement.
Source:Tapping America's Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative, www.businessroundtable.org/pdf/20050803001TAPfinalnb.pdf
National Science Foundation
- Awarded $634,000 to the University of Rochester Warner School of Education to help encourage and train quality STEM professionals in the education field.
- Awarded $900,000 to the University of Michigan-Dearborn to support a new program for underserved high school students. The program aims to help students build skills and knowledge of information technologies within the STEM fields.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Awarded a $12 million grant to the state of Ohio to create schools throughout the state that specifically target and develop STEM skills.
- Awarded $3.4 million to the Indiana STEM Resource Network, a statewide group of higher education institutions dedicated to measurably improving K-12 student achievement in the STEM disciplines.
Quality STEM education starts with quality teachers
As the need for STEM education increases, so does the need for quality STEM teachers. Consider the following:
- 61% of the nation's math teachers are certified in the discipline
- 35% of K-5 instructors teach science daily
- 30% of the nation's math and science teachers are nearing retirement
Source: "Illinois STEM Education Report," www.keepingillinoiscompetitive.niu.edu/ilstem/pdfs/STEM_ed_align_7-2.pdf
*This story is from Converge magazine's Winter 2008 issue.
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