White House Begins Campaign to Promote Science and Math Education 11/23/09
| Marilyn Sigman, Alaska SeaGrant/MAP
Tags: Ocean and Climate Literacy, K-12 Science Education
By KENNETH CHANG, NY Times
To improve science and mathematics education for American children, the White House is recruiting Elmo and Big Bird, video game programmers and thousands of scientists. President Obama announced a campaign to enlist companies and nonprofit groups to spend money, time and volunteer effort to encourage students, especially in middle and high school, to pursue science, technology, engineering and math. Mr. Obama, accompanied by students and a robot that scooped up and tossed rocks, also announced an annual science fair at the White House.
“If you win the N.C.A.A. championship, you come to the White House,” he said. “Well, if you’re a young person and you’ve produced the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too. Scientists and engineers ought to stand side by side with athletes and entertainers as role models, and here at the White House, we’re going to lead by example. We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.”
The campaign, called Educate to Innovate, focuses mainly on activities outside the classroom. For example, Discovery Communications has promised to use two hours of the afternoon schedule on its Science Channel cable network for commercial-free programming geared toward middle school students. Science and engineering societies are promising to provide volunteers to work with students in the classroom, culminating in a National Lab Day in May. The foundation of Jack D. Hidary, an entrepreneur who earned his fortune in finance and technology, worked with the National Science Teachers Association, the MacArthur Foundation and the American Chemical Society to create a Web site, nationallabday.org, that matches scientists willing to volunteer their time and teachers describing what projects they hope to incorporate into their classes.