December 2017



White House issues directive on STEM and Computer Science Education

President Donald Trump signed a Memorandum directing US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to establish priorities within existing competitive grant programs at the US Department of Education (USED) in order to increase access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, with a particular focus on increasing opportunities in Computer Science.

This effort does not commit new money nor create any new grants. The former i3 grants, now called Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grants will be likely targets for this directive. They were funded at $100 million in FY17.

Following the President’s announcement, many of the country’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Salesforce, pledged a total of $300 million for computer science education, to support their own efforts to prepare students for careers in STEM and CS fields.

The Museum’s NCTL led an ASTC (Association of Science – Technology Centers) effort to urge the USED to recognize and support informal science education institutions in their role as innovative providers of educational experiences and professional development. The ASTC community also encouraged the specific inclusion of engineering design challenges and computation thinking as part of the STEM and Computer Science priority.

Read the article here.

NSF Calls for Nominations to STEM Education Advisory Panel

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has requested recommendations for membership in a STEM Education Advisory Panel created in October. The role of the STEM Education Advisory Panel (Committee) is to provide advice and recommendations to the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (CoSTEM), assess CoSTEM’s progress in carrying out responsibilities related to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, and help identify need or opportunity to update the Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan. The STEM Education Advisory Panel (Committee) was established on October 18, 2017, under the authority of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act.

Along with NSF, the Department of Education, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are currently requesting recommendations for membership. Recommendations should consist of the name of the submitting individual, the organization or the affiliation providing the member nomination, the name of the recommended individual, the recommended individual’s curriculum vita, an expression of the individual’s interest in serving, and the following recommended individual’s contact information: employment address, telephone number, FAX number, and email address. Self-recommendations are accepted. Recommendations are accepted year around. However, since we anticipate a December review of applications for early 2018 appointments, we encourage submissions in late Nov/early December.

If you would like to make a membership recommendation, please send your recommendation to Nafeesa Owens at

MA ESSA Plan Approved

Education Secretary DeVos approved the Massachusetts plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation and funding on October 21. Their focus includes special attention to two areas where state performance has been stagnant -- early grades literacy and middle grades mathematics. At the high school level, the state will ensure that all students have multiple high-quality pathways to educational and career opportunities after secondary school.

Initially, the state attempted to include science achievement as a key indicator of academic achievement but the ESSA law only allows for Math and English Language Arts to serve as such. In response, Massachusetts moved Science to count as part of the required additional indicators of school quality/student success. We are encouraged that the state sees science, and engineering, as important measurable topics for student success.

The state plan also outlines how they plan to spend their federal dollar allocations and specifically mentioned a partnership with the Museum of Science that develops STEM Ambassadors to help schools across the state better understand the recently revised Science, Technology/Engineering standards. With respect to Title IVA funding, Massachusetts is the only state to offer a two-pronged approach. First, funds will be distributed by formula to the districts. If there are any unclaimed funds, the state will run a competition for the remaining funds.

Acting State Education Commission Jeff Wulfson said, "Massachusetts is proud of the achievements of our K-12 student population, but like most other states, we still have a lot of work ahead to close persistent achievement gaps." The NCTL is working to engage the State Legislature, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Boston Public Schools to further their commitment to engineering education.

Every Student Succeeds with State & Local STEM Tool Kit

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states, districts, and schools have an opportunity to make STEM a priority. The STEM community—fueled by 100Kin10 partners, including the Museum of Science—is working to help make that happen. Our goal is to ensure that great STEM teaching and great STEM learning are priorities in states across the nation under ESSA. We believe Every Student Succeeds with STEM and have created a tool kit for STEM advocates everywhere.

The outreach campaign is rich with STEM rationales, media samples and graphics, who to contact, how to-instructions, examples, including a snapshot of the NCTL’s efforts in Massachusetts. We urge all our readers to download the tool kit and work to make STEM a priority in their state using their federal ESSA funding streams. We will continue to advocate for continued STEM funding at the federal level.

Wishing you and yours a pleasant, STEM-active, holiday season.



White House issues directive on STEM and Computer Science Education

NSF Calls for Nominations to STEM Education Advisory Panel

MA ESSA Plan Approved

Every Student Succeeds with State & Local STEM Tool Kit


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