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NCTL Advocates for STEM on Capitol Hill

January 21, 2014

The National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®) has been active lately:

Appropriations

The NCTL has been working with the ASTC public policy committee and the Massachusetts delegation to preserve federal STEM-related grant programs slated for elimination, consolidation or severe cuts. At press time, the FY14 budget agreement headed for the President's signature largely repudiates the Office of Management and Budget's plan to consolidate federal STEM programs in three areas -- K-12 learning at the US Department of Education, higher education at the National Science Foundation, and informal learning at the Smithsonian Institution. We argued that science centers, and their visitors, benefit greatly by connecting directly with scientists and engineers at federal agencies, such as NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and that eliminating these programs and their expertise would hamper STEM engagement across the country.

America COMPETES

Congress is gearing up to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act outlining priorities in R&D funding and STEM education. Both House and Senate members recognize the value of informal science and out-of-school time education in engaging future scientists and engineers. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) (on right) noted during a November Senate hearing that many scientists were inspired to pursue their career after visiting the Museum of Science and suggested we could diversify the science and engineering workforce by supporting informal science learning. Both the House Republican and Democratic versions include opportunities for science centers. The Senate is still developing their bill.

New STEM Gateways Bill

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) have teamed up again to support STEM education. (Both are lead sponsors of the NCTL-crafted Educating Tomorrow's Engineers Act). Their new STEM Gateways Act (S.1796/H.R.3690) would provide grants for classroom and informal learning, career preparation, mentoring, internships, and other educational activities to encourage women, minorities, and economically disadvantaged students to pursue STEM careers. In support, Museum president and NCTL founder Ioannis Miaoulis said, "Informal science education, particularly at science centers and museums, is an important aspect of a student's learning ecosystem. Science museums also provide teacher training and parent engagement tools to stimulate student interest in STEM fields." Rep. Kennedy said, "By underinvesting in educational opportunities for populations historically underrepresented in STEM fields, we aren't just doing those individuals a disservice -- we are leaving a tremendous amount of economic potential on the table." This bill works to close these gaps.

Related Links

The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500   information@mos.org