“I’m calling on all 200,000 scientists who work for the federal government to do their part in their communities: to speak at schools, to create hands-on learning opportunities … and to help toke that same curiosity in students which perhaps led them to pursue a career in science in the first place,” he said.

The announcement came at the same time as Obama honored more than 100 math and science educators with Presidential Awards for Excellence in STEM Mentoring and Monitoring.

“In the end, the work that you do, and the difference you make, is what all these reforms are all about,” he said.

“Whether it’s showing students how to record the habits of a resident reptile, or teaching kids to test soil samples on a class trip to Costa Rica, whether it’s helping young people from tough neighborhoods in Chicago to become ‘Junior Paleontologists,’ or creating a mentoring program that connects engineering students with girls and minorities, who are traditionally underserved in the field—all of you are demonstrating why teaching and mentoring is so important, and why we have to support you, equip you, and send in some reinforcements for you,” Obama told the educators.

Karen Nesbit, first grade teacher at Pleasant View Elementary School in Wisconsin, was among the educators receiving the awards.

She said traveling to Washington and interacting with so many other STEM educators inspired her.

“It’s like being able to touch hope,” she said. “Everyone here is so hopeful and passionate.”

Nesbit said the Obama administration’s investment in STEM is a powerful testament to the importance of her role, and it shows that federal leaders understand that importance.

“Many times I feel like I’m on the Titanic, but now I feel like I’m on the Queen Mary,” she said.

Links:

Obama Honors Educators in Math and Science (video)

Intel’s Science and Math Teachers Initiative

Expansion of the National Math and Science Initiative’s UTeach Program

The PBS Innovative Educators Challenge

Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships in Math and Science