STEM Education in Popular Culture

Even while some have called America’s current STEM education ‘ill-equipped‘, STEM is making an impact in popular culture.  PBS Kids shows such as Super Why, The Cat in the Hat Knows All about That!, Curious George, and Dinosaur Train have put a new focus on literacy and STEM education.  Last year PBS saw a spike in its ratings, with a 23% jump in viewership of 2-11 year olds, which they attribute to parental awareness of both the importance of STEM education and the recognition of educational merit in their programs.

Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president of Children’s Media at PBS, said, “Years ago, we identified a gap in children’s media – there was very little content available for kids to build critical literacy and STEM skills – especially on TV.”

The popular children’s television show Sesame Street will also be concentrating on STEM education as it embarks on its 42nd season.  According to Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit organization involved with Sesame Street, the program will emphasize STEM by “observing the properties of bubbles to experimenting to see ‘what worms like to squirm on best’ to engineering a boat for Zoe’s pet rock, Elmo and the gang use the processes of scientific inquiry to make sense of their environment.”

In addition to its incorporation of STEM in television programs, PBS has also launched online initiatives designed to excite children about the subject.  PBS has made online videos and games emphasizing those principles available. Rotenburg explained, “Learning becomes more meaningful when kids are able to step into the driver’s seat with their favorite PBS KIDS characters and tackle math, reading, science and other educational games and activities.”

In fact, STEM is branching out into many different forms of popular culture.  In addition to television and the web, STEM’s impact can be seen in video games and even films.

Posted by: Rebecca Anderson

Sources:, PBS, Sesame Workshop

Photo Credit: 281/365 Aloha Elmo courtesy of flickr user puukibeach


You are Invited: 21st Century Pathways to a Skilled Technology Workforce

The National Center for Women & Information Technology and the Wilson Center invite you to:

“21st Century Pathways to a Skilled Technology Workforce” Roundtable

October 13, 2011, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 5th Floor Conference Room

1300 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004

8:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m. Opening Remarks

Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy, Woodrow Wilson Center; Lucinda Sanders, CEO & Co-founder, The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT)

8:45 a.m. Keynote Addresses

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) – invited

Congressman Thomas Petri (R-WI)confirmed

Introduction by The Honorable Jane Harman, Director, President & CEO, Woodrow Wilson Center

9:30 a.m. Panel One:  Unpacking STEM & the Problems with Finding Talent

Avis Yates Rivers, President and CEO, Technology Concepts Group, Inc. – confirmed; Dan Zelem, CIO, Medco – confirmed; Donagh Herlihy, Senior VP & CIO, Avon Products, Inc. – confirmed; Cordell Carter, Director of Public Policy, Business Roundtable – confirmed; Dr. Anthony Carnevale, Director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce – confirmed

10:30 Coffee & Conversation

10:45 a.m. Panel Two:  National Security & a 21st Century Workforce

Laura Adolfie, Director, STEM Development Office, Department of Defense – confirmed; Susan Lavrakas, Director, Workforce – Aerospace Industries Association – confirmed; Kelly H. Carnes, President and CEO, TechVision21 – confirmed; Kim Adams, Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity Programs, Lockheed Martin- invited; Alan Paller, Director of Research, The SANS Institute – invited; Matt Fussa, Managing Attorney for Global Government Solutions, Cisco Systems, Inc. – invited; Rand Beers, Under Secretary, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Department of Homeland Security – invited

11:45 a.m. Creative Approaches to 21st Century Skills

Bill Kamela, Senior Director for Education and Workforce Law and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft – confirmed; Bob Baugh, Executive Director, AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council – confirmed; Sara Akbar, Senior Manager, Government Affairs, Oracle Corporation – confirmed

12:45 p.m. Closing Remarks

Lucinda Sanders, CEO & Co-founder, The National Center for Women and Information Technology; Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy, Woodrow Wilson Center

RSVP to by October 11, 2011              Please contact Liz Byers with questions:  202-691-4357

Posted by: PAGE Staff

US Drops a Spot in Competitiveness Rankings

According to the a recently released report from the World Economic Forum, the United States fell one position to claim 5th place in the world competitiveness rankings.  Some have attributed the US lag to its “economic vulnerabilities” as well as concerns regarding government inefficiency and trust in political actors.

Not all is bad on the competitiveness rankings front however.  The Economist Intelligence Unit recently found that the United States was the world leader in technology competitiveness.

Posted by: Carolyn Bantz

Sources: Business Software, Alliance, The New York Times, World Economic Forum

Photo Credit: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009 courtesy of flickr user World Economic Forum

Energy Efficiency for Innovation

Many private energy companies have implemented rebate programs for their customers who purchase energy-efficient appliances.  Programs have been set up in many states, including most recently Oklahoma.  Greg Philips, president of one of the state’s largest gas companies, Oklahoma Natural Gas, recently commented, “We are serious about encouraging our customers to be more energy-efficient”.   Similar programs are being introduced in New York, North Carolina, and elsewhere along the East Coast in conjunction with the damage caused by Hurricane Irene last month.

Not only are home owners benefiting from the increased attention to energy-efficient appliances, small businesses are as well.  According to a national survey released by Small Business Majority, of 1,200 business owners nationwide, energy costs including fuel, electricity, heating and cooling are of high importance.  Some argue that a focus on eliminating these costs will allow for increased prosperity for small business – with 68% of those surveyed having already installed energy-efficient lighting, appliances and insulation.

John Arensmeyer, CEO and founder of the advocacy group, Small Business Majority, stated that “Standards that increase fuel efficiency…will deliver innovations that consumers want without putting the product financially out of reach. Allowing the EPA to regulate harmful carbon emissions could help stabilize the market and set clear goals for our nation’s future in the clean energy economy.”

Posted by: Georgina Ellison

Sources: Business News Daily, Business Week, Staten Island Advance, The Huffington Post

Photo Credit: Energy Star Certification courtesy of flick user MoneyBlogNewz

Reminder: You are Invited – Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Program on America and the Global Economy (PAGE) Presents a conference:

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Friday, September 23th:  8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

6th Floor Flom Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson Center

As America continues to find its footing in the post-recession globalized world, entrepreneurship and innovation remain two key facets of potential growth.  The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation are hosting a conference on September 23, 2011 to explore these subjects in greater depth.  The conference is to begin with an opening keynote from Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), followed by two panels of experts from industry, policy, and academia, with a concluding address from Carl Schramm, President & CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.


8:30-9:00 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Keynote Address: Congressman Jared Polis

9:00-10:15 a.m. – Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Ken Jarboe, President, Athena Alliance

Mike Nelson, Professor, Georgetown University

Bill Bonvillian, Director, MIT Washington Office

Moderated by: Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy

10:15-10:30 a.m. – Break

10:30-11:45 a.m. – Intellectual Property, Regulation, and Entrepreneurship

John Duffy, Professor, University of Virginia Law School

Doug Comer, Professor, Purdue University

Steve Merrill, Executive Director, Science, Technology, Economic Policy, National Academies

Jon Dudas, President, FIRST Robotics

Moderated by: Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy

12:00-1:00 p.m. – Lunch

1:00-1:30 p.m. – Luncheon Keynote: Carl Schramm, President & CEO, Kauffman Foundation

RSVP acceptances only, or by calling (202) 691-4206

Posted by: PAGE Staff

High School IT Academies

On September 14, 2011, Microsoft and the Superintendent of public schools of the State of Washington, Randy Dorn, announced the launch of an initiative to bring the Microsoft IT Academy Program to over 700 schools.  The same day, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell also announced a partnership with Microsoft to bring the Academy to schools.

The Microsoft IT Academy Program helps provide schools with the resources to teach innovative technologies.  Membership in the program is open to accredited or state-sponsored primary, secondary, tertiary, preparatory, vocational, trade, and military schools.  The courses and activities associated with the Academy are designed to increase the employability of students and prepare them for future careers in IT.

“Right now, one out of every two of today’s jobs requires some technology skills.  That number will increase to three out of every four jobs in 10 years. We need to make sure our students are trained in areas that will get them jobs,” Dorn explained at a presentation of the training at a Seattle high school.

Washington is not the only state to get in on the act however.  Virginia will begin to implement the Academy in 30 high schools and nine regional and technological education centers with the hope of establishing the program in all high schools by the end of this school year.  Governor Bob McDonnell similarly expressed the importance of STEM education projects, “In today’s global economy, it is essential that our students are prepared for the skilled and technical jobs that are driving job growth today and will continue to be important economic drivers in the future.”

Anne Rowe of the Virginia Department of Education told Government Technology, “The MTA [Microsoft Technology Associates program] and MCP [Microsoft Certified Professional program] are very viable because we have courses that teach Oracle database, Cisco networking systems and we have a variety of levels of technology in our curriculum today… Now we’ll have more resources to help students get to a better level of preparation for the credentialing.”

Washington and Virginia are following the lead of North Carolina, which applied the Microsoft IT Academy to all of its high schools in the 2010-2011 school year. Curt Miller, a business and information technology education consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, emphasized the positive response from teachers: “They liked that they were teaching a specific technology skill set – leading to certifications recognized by businesses.”

Posted by: Rebecca Anderson

Sources:, Government Technology, Microsoft IT Academy Program, Microsoft News Center, Washington Examiner

Photo Credit: Laptop courtesy of flickr user Hannaford

You are Invited: Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Friday, September 23, 2011; 8:30 am – 2:00 pm

6th floor Flom Auditorium; Woodrow Wilson Center

The event will be webcasted live here.

Featuring: Opening keynote from Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO); Carl Schramm, President and CEO, Kauffman Foundation; Steve Merrill, Executive Director, Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, National Academies; John Duffy, Professor, University of Virginia Law School; Doug Comer, Professor, Purdue University; Mike Nelson, Professor, Georgetown University; Bill Bonvillian, Director, Washington Officer, MIT; Ken Jarboe, President, Athena Alliance; Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy.

rsvp to

Posted by: PAGE Staff