STEM After School

The push to increase federal funding for STEM education opportunities outside the classroom received a boost last week, as U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Mark Begich (D-AK) announced that they were re-introducing the Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program.  The effort would reward schools with innovative extracurricular STEM activities, and go towards purchases of parts to support team STEM competitions, incentives or stipends for teachers, and costs related to regional and national competitions.

Dean Kamen, President of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) founder, joined the announcement and stressed that success in STEM fields will be “critical to America’s economic advancement and global competitiveness.”  Innovative after-school competitions that encourage interest in STEM, like FIRST’s robotics challenge, “encourage students to pursue higher education and a career in science and technology.”  Kamen previously cited data that those who participate in FIRST competitions are more likely to attend college on a full-time basis compared to other students, nearly two times as likely to major in a science or engineering field, and are significantly more likely to achieve a post-graduate degree.

The United States Army is getting in on the act as well.  The Army recently issued a call to improve STEM education by hosting its first in a series of events at Aberdeen Proving Grounds to “channel support to advance STEM curriculum; propose STEM enrichment opportunities for teachers; and identify ways to stimulate student participation in STEM disciplines.”  Educators and industry leaders joined government officials to discuss how to improve science and mathematics teaching, especially outside the classroom.  “APG has provided a destination for the kid who aspires in STEM subjects,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lawson, executive director for high school education in Cecil County, Maryland. “We’re creating a culture with long-term goals ahead.”

Given the current budgetary climate,  evidenced by the recent flirtation with a government showdown, funding is an ever-present challenge.  The door to providing resources for STEM could remain open, however, as education largely avoided the chopping block in Congress’s 11th hour funding agreement.  Lawmakers spared Head Start and Pell grant programs from the cuts seen in many other areas, suggesting at least some agreement in an area Shaheen called “important for our students, for our economy, and for our future.”

Posted by: John Coit

Sources: Army.mil, deskeng.com, fosters.com, MSNBC, shaheen.senate.gov, thehill.com,

Photo Credit: NYC FIRST ROBOTICS COMPETITION 2011 – Jacob Javits Convention Center, Manhattan NYC – 03/12/11 courtesty of flickr user asterix611

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Watch Live – The New Cool Book Launch

The live webcast of this event has concluded.

Please click here for an archived video.

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

THE NEW COOL: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 ~ 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

Neal Bascomb, Author

Commentator:  Mark Hannum, Educator, Thomas Jefferson School For Science and Technology

Moderated by: Kent Hughes, Director, PAGE, Woodrow Wilson Center

When Dean Kamen, a millionaire inventor, realized that most kids couldn’t name a living scientist, he created the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition to encourage high-school students to consider scientific careers.

In The New Cool, Bascomb follows FIRST team 1717, the D’Penguineers, from Goleta, California, during the 2009 season. The team of high-school seniors, all rookie robot builders, is led by Amir Abo-Shaeer, a physics teacher.  The astonishing story of a team of high school seniors and their remarkable mentor, who come together—not to play a sport or exercise their athletic prowess—but rather to build a machine that will battle in the most heated, sophisticated robotics contest in the world.  The FIRST competition, sponsored by genius inventor Kamen, is jumpstarting American innovation for the next generation—and beyond.

Please RSVP acceptances only to page@wilsoncenter.org or 202-691-4206. A live webcast can be viewed at http://www.wilsoncenter.org. Directions to the Woodrow Wilson Center can be found at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/directions.

Posted by: PAGE Staff

You are Invited – Book Launch: The New Cool

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

THE NEW COOL: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 ~ 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

Neal Bascomb, Author

Commentator:  Mark Hannum, Educator, Thomas Jefferson School For Science and Technology

Moderated by: Kent Hughes, Director, PAGE, Woodrow Wilson Center

When Dean Kamen, a millionaire inventor, realized that most kids couldn’t name a living scientist, he created the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition to encourage high-school students to consider scientific careers.

In The New Cool, Bascomb follows FIRST team 1717, the D’Penguineers, from Goleta, California, during the 2009 season. The team of high-school seniors, all rookie robot builders, is led by Amir Abo-Shaeer, a physics teacher.  The astonishing story of a team of high school seniors and their remarkable mentor, who come together—not to play a sport or exercise their athletic prowess—but rather to build a machine that will battle in the most heated, sophisticated robotics contest in the world.  The FIRST competition, sponsored by genius inventor Kamen, is jumpstarting American innovation for the next generation—and beyond.

Please RSVP acceptances only to page@wilsoncenter.org or 202-691-4206. A live webcast can be viewed at http://www.wilsoncenter.org. Directions to the Woodrow Wilson Center can be found at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/directions.

Posted by: PAGE Staff

Dean (Kamen) of Invention

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, recently unveiled his latest project: a television show by the name of Dean of Invention.  Teaming up with Planet Green and correspondent Joann Colan, Kamen will travel the globe investigating and exploring today’s most innovative and creative technologies.  Together, Kamen and Colan will encounter and interview leading scientists and inventors in pursuit of technological breakthroughs “that will improve life for all mankind.”

Last year Kamen spoke at the Wilson Center about his water purification project which is designed to provide clean drinking water to the 1.1 billion people who currently do not have access.  Commenting on the daunting challenges anyone faces when they address a task as monumental as providing access to clean drinking water the world over, Kamen noted, “I’d rather work on the really big stuff.”

Posted by: Wesley Milillo

Sources: Deka Research, Planet Green, Woodrow Wilson Center

Photo credit: David Hawxhurst