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White House honors student achievement in STEM education

During first-ever White House Science Fair, President Obama also announces several new STEM education programs

President Barack Obama grabs the steering wheel as Tristan Evarts, of Londonderry, N.H., explains how their invention can detect distracted driving as he tours science projects on display in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy.)

President Barack Obama grabs the steering wheel as Tristan Evarts, of Londonderry, N.H., explains how their invention can detect distracted driving. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama announced several new initiatives geared toward improving U.S. competitiveness in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education during the first White House Science Fair on Oct. 19, including new funding commitments and public service campaigns.

The private sector has committed $700 million to help improve the nation’s STEM education, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a public-private partnership to inspire young people to pursue STEM-related fields.

More than 100 top executives from the nation’s leading corporations recently launched a campaign called “Change the Equation,” designed to improve America’s math and science rankings.

“It’s unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you, for us to be ranked on average as 21st [in science] or 25th [in math]—not with so much at stake,” Obama said. “Now obviously the young people who are here all boosted our averages considerably.”

Those young people, being honored for their student achievement in the STEM disciplines, presented astoundingly impressive projects, from a sophomore girl who developed a new technique for battling cancer with light activation to a high school team from Tennessee that developed a self-contained water purification system.

“Now if that doesn’t inspire you, if that doesn’t make you feel good about America and the possibilities of our young people when they apply themselves to science and math, I don’t know what will,” Obama said.

Obama also discussed the Race to the Top initiative, which encourages states to compete to produce the most innovative STEM education programs designed to raise student achievement.

“There are tens of millions of talented young people out there who haven’t been similarly inspired, and we’ve got to figure out how we make sure that everybody who’s got that same talent and inclination, how do we give them the tools that they need so that they can succeed, so that they’re entering international science competitions, so that they’re up to snuff when it comes to math,” Obama said.

Obama said he held the science fair to bring attention to the best of the student innovators.

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Comments:

  1. computerhead

    October 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

    In regards to your question: How can we improve STEM education?

    I often hear this from students: “I hate math and science.”

    Nobel laureate and ex-Fermi Lab leader Leon Lederman recently addressed this on UCTV. He said that he is surprised that students can emerge from high school with any interest or love of science.

    I think some of the problem is due to pushing unreasonable “standards” into lower grades. What used to be high school
    work is now expected in middle school. So we have kids who
    are asked to do developmentally inappropriate tasks. The
    majority is not at the cognitive level necessary for abstract
    formal reasoning.

    That which humiliates you becomes disliked. So many kids
    have a quite natural, understandable response to the
    situation.

    But we continue with the idea of one-size-fits-all standards–
    in spite of a century of research on human development.

  2. computerhead

    October 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

    In regards to your question: How can we improve STEM education?

    I often hear this from students: “I hate math and science.”

    Nobel laureate and ex-Fermi Lab leader Leon Lederman recently addressed this on UCTV. He said that he is surprised that students can emerge from high school with any interest or love of science.

    I think some of the problem is due to pushing unreasonable “standards” into lower grades. What used to be high school
    work is now expected in middle school. So we have kids who
    are asked to do developmentally inappropriate tasks. The
    majority is not at the cognitive level necessary for abstract
    formal reasoning.

    That which humiliates you becomes disliked. So many kids
    have a quite natural, understandable response to the
    situation.

    But we continue with the idea of one-size-fits-all standards–
    in spite of a century of research on human development.

  3. hparry

    October 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I agree that activities in math and science should follow the developmental stages of children. I too see some science activities that I liked as a student in seven grade now placed around fourth grade. I too wonder if we should look at our family structure and pre-parenting learning and requirements which might come with a marriage liscense or in many cases hold some requirements for raising children within some sort of setting.

  4. hparry

    October 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I agree that activities in math and science should follow the developmental stages of children. I too see some science activities that I liked as a student in seven grade now placed around fourth grade. I too wonder if we should look at our family structure and pre-parenting learning and requirements which might come with a marriage liscense or in many cases hold some requirements for raising children within some sort of setting.

  5. brokenairplane

    October 26, 2010 at 12:25 am

    The science festival was an exciting event and it more than accomplished its goal of reaching many about the excitement and importance of STEM.

    My high school students brought a virtual bike, a 3D walk through our local park to bring awareness to the community that they have an incredible natural resource. Hundreds came by the booth and tried it out. I know my students are hooked for life. Here is a blog post about the virtual bike:

    http://bit.ly/cK58Aq

    Additionally, I took pictures of the highlights of the festival. Really great to see so many companies, organizations, and schools participate, I am already excited for next year!

    Pictures and more in depth coverage: http://bit.ly/av8H1x

  6. brokenairplane

    October 26, 2010 at 12:25 am

    The science festival was an exciting event and it more than accomplished its goal of reaching many about the excitement and importance of STEM.

    My high school students brought a virtual bike, a 3D walk through our local park to bring awareness to the community that they have an incredible natural resource. Hundreds came by the booth and tried it out. I know my students are hooked for life. Here is a blog post about the virtual bike:

    http://bit.ly/cK58Aq

    Additionally, I took pictures of the highlights of the festival. Really great to see so many companies, organizations, and schools participate, I am already excited for next year!

    Pictures and more in depth coverage: http://bit.ly/av8H1x