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Bipartisanship Leads to House Approval of STEM Education Act

July 21, 2014

Despite widespread election year gridlock, on July 15, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R.5031, the STEM Education Act of 2014, with broad bipartisan support. Its goal is to strengthen STEM education programs at federal agencies and include computer science in the definition of STEM education. The National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®) helped secure language insuring that the National Science Foundation (NSF) will continue to play an important role in supporting informal science education.

The NSF language supports the development of innovative out-of-school STEM learning and research advancing informal STEM education. It also provides for the design and testing of innovative STEM learning models, programs, and other resources for informal learning environments to improve STEM learning and engagement for K - 12 students, teachers, and the public.

Introducing the bill, House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, "We need to ensure that young adults have the scientific and mathematical skills to strive and thrive in a technology-based economy. But we have to capture and hold the desire of our nation's youth to study science and engineering so they will want to pursue these careers. A healthy and viable STEM workforce, literate in all STEM subjects including computer science, is critical to American industries."

House Research Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) spoke in favor of the bill. "About 65 million visits to museums and science centers occur each year, including 13 million schoolchildren. Their educational programming and inspirational exhibits linked to classroom curriculum make museums and science centers natural partners with schools in STEM education. Programs supporting informal education at museums and science centers are responsible for some of the most innovative forms of pedagogy."

The NCTL is also working with Senate staff on similarly supportive language in reauthorizing America COMPETES. Other NCTL-supported STEM education bills await the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The Museum of Science, Boston

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