STEM Education News

February 9, 2012

In This Issue:


President Obama Celebrates STEM at 2nd White House Science Fair

This week, President Obama hosted the second White House Science Fair celebrating the achievements of students from across the country in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Over 100 students from 45 different states exhibited their award-winning projects from more than 40 different STEM competitions.

The students presented innovative experiments in science, technology and engineering, from creative new inventions, to potentially live saving technologies, to cutting-edge research. President Obama spent nearly an hour touring the exhibits, congratulating the students, asking questions, and encouraging them to continue pursuing STEM subjects and careers. He even had fun experimenting with the projects, launching marshmallows out of an air cannon designed by Phoenix 8th grader, Joey Hudy. “This is fun!” the President laughed. “It’s not every day that you have robots running all over your house.  I am trying to figure out how you got through the metal detectors.”

After visiting the exhibits, the President addressed an audience of students, science educators and business leaders, discussing the importance of STEM education to the country’s economic future and making several key announcements. President Obama called for the preparation and recruitment of 100,000 STEM teachers as well as 1 million new STEM graduates over the next decade. He also laid out the key steps that the Administration and its partners have committed to take in order to reach these goals. Read more about the President’s plan for action in Triangle Coalition’s Legislative Update.

(left to right) Kyra Smith, Bill Nye, Anthonette Peña outside the White House

(left to right) Kyra Smith, Bill Nye, Anthonette Peña outside the White House

DCPS Science Teacher and Einstein Fellow Emeritus, Anthonette Peña, attended the White House Science Fair with her 8th grade student, Kyra Smith, of Stuart Hobson Middle School, representing the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP) and the District of Columbia. Kyra’s microgravity experiment was selected for flight in a research minilab that will be flown to the International Space Station in the Spring.

Upon arriving at the White House, Kyra says, “we got to look at lots of interesting science projects from kids across the country. I saw computer games, robot and new inventions and was very impressed.” Highlights of her day included meeting Astronaut Leland Melvin,  Bill Nye, and seeing President Obama in person as he addressed the audience, which she says “was just like seeing him talk on TV, except he was only a few feet away, and I could see the cameras filming him.”  Kyra adds, “I also met the President of NASA and got to explain my project to him and talk about how it was going into space in the ISS in the spring.”

The President stated, as he has before, that “if we are recognizing athletic achievement, then we should also be recognizing academic achievement and science achievement.  If we invite the team that wins the Super Bowl to the White House, then we need to invite some science fair winners to the White House as well.”

Read about these inspiring students as well as the various competitions and organizations that were involved here.


PCAST Releases Undergraduate STEM Education Report

At a public briefing on Tuesday, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its second report on STEM education. This report focused on undergraduate education and is entitled “Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” The report provides a strategy for improving STEM education during the first two years of college in order to dramatically increase the graduation rates of students with STEM degrees.

Fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college as STEM majors complete college with a STEM degree. Increasing retention of STEM majors to just 50 percent would alone help generate approximately three quarters of the targeted 1 million additional STEM degrees in the next decade, the report says. PCAST lays out a strategy to achieve this which takes into account reasons students abandon STEM courses in the first two years, lagging math skills, and diversifying pathways to encourage women and minorities.

In addition to its call to create a Presidential Council on STEM Education, PCAST makes the following recommendations:

  1. Catalyze widespread adoption of empirically validated teaching practices.
  2. Advocate and provide support for replacing standards laboratory courses with discovery-based research courses.
  3. Launch a national experiment in postsecondary mathematics education to address the math preparation gap.
  4. Encourage partnerships among stakeholders to diversify pathways to STEM careers.

Read more about the report’s recommendations and how the Administration plans to address them in Triangle Coalition’s recent Legislative Update.

Additional resources on the PCAST report:

Nominate Outstanding Math and Science Teachers for PAEMST


Do you know an outstanding K through 6th grade math or science teacher? Each year, the President recognizes outstanding

mathematics and science teachers for their work in the classroom with Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).  Nominations for this year’s awardees are currently being solicited through the April 1, 2012 deadline.

Awards this year will be given to K through 6th grade math and science teachers in each state and U.S. jurisdiction.  Selected teachers will receive a citation from the President of the United States, a trip to Washington, D.C. that includes the opportunity to meet their U.S. Senators and Representative, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

Anyone can nominate a teacher at by simply submitting the teacher’s name and contact information. Nominated teachers must then complete their applications by May 1, 2012.


SanDisk Scholarships Available for Women and Minority Students Pursuing STEM

SanDisk Corporation recently announced it will award $1 million this year in needs-based scholarships to support Latino and African-American women pursuing STEM fields. Funded by the SanDisk Foundation, the SanDisk Scholars Fund will award grants of up to $10,000 per student to graduating high school seniors, community-college students, or students already enrolled in a STEM-related course of study.

The scholarship targets students who have academic promise and require financial assistance to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. Helping talented and qualified students obtain university degrees in science, engineering and technology leads to growth in the technology industry and increases the overall competitiveness of the U.S.

“The goal of the SanDisk Scholarship Fund is to help disadvantaged students to pursue studies in technology and engineering,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO, SanDisk. “Our hope is to alleviate the under-representation of women, Latinos and African-American students in STEM-related occupations.

Of the $1 million committed for this year, a portion will be awarded to students attending: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles and University of Texas-Austin. Funding for STEM-related research grants is also planned and included in this amount.

Interested students can find all of the eligibility requirements, online applications, and required accompanying documents at


Department of Education Releases State Tables for FY 2010-12

The U.S. Department of Education’s state tables are now available for FY 2010 (including data on the Education Jobs Fund); the FY 2011 Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act; and the FY 2012 Appropriation. Funds included in the State-by-State tables are for agency programs that allocate funds to States or local educational agencies using statutory formulas. The totals do not reflect all Department of Education funds that a State receives. States and other entities may also receive Department funds awarded on a competitive basis.

These tables also include financial support from selected student aid programs that provide funds to postsecondary institutions located in the State, as well as the new federally supported loans made to students attending postsecondary institutions located in the State.

Each of the State tables shows subtotals for:

  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act programs;
  • All elementary and secondary education programs;
  • Postsecondary education programs;
  • Rehabilitative services and disability research programs; and
  • Student loan volume.

View State tables by program or by State.


Member in the Spotlight:

Academy of Science – St. Louis Honors Top Science Fair Students

The Academy of Science – St. Louis this week announced the top students who participated in its 2012 Science Fair – Honors Division on Saturday, February 4th.  The top two students will represent St. Louis at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May.  Over $10,000 in scholarships are awarded to the top 10 students made possible through the generous support of Monsanto Fund and MEMC. Additionally, all Honors Division Students are invited to bring their project to The Academy of Science – St. Louis Science Fair to compete for additional special Awards in May.

Top Winners:

  • 1st Place: Uttara Chakrabortye, Junior – Homeschool
    Project Title:  Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stack Configuration Optimization Using a New Algorithm
  • 2nd Place: Maheetha Bharadwaj, Senior – Thomas Jefferson High School
    Project Title: Utilizing the DGT Gene in E-Coli to Assess the Role of DGTP Pools in Mutagenesis: Possible Implications for Cancer
  • 3rd Place: David Wang, Junior – Lafayette High School
    Project Title: Lung Cancer Metabolism Landscape: Activity Based Systems Biology to Study Cancer Development Mechanism and for Drug Target Identification

Since 1856, the Academy of Science of St. Louis has been a leader in the advancement and integration of science and technology into contemporary society. Academy resources are entirely mission focused, on expanded scientific outreach, education, resource sharing, and the recognition of scientific accomplishment. Academy partners include every scientific sector—academic, public, corporate, and private—from a broad range of science, medicine, engineering, and technology concerns. To learn more about the Academy, visit their Member Profile Page.

Academy of Science - St. Louis 2012 Science Fair Finalists - Honors Division

Academy of Science - St. Louis 2012 Science Fair Finalists - Honors Division




This week’s STEM Education News is sponsored by 3M.

3M and the 3M Foundation are committed to supporting innovative and practical initiatives which enhance the quality of life in 3M communities around the world. With the goal of helping to develop productive, educated and involved citizens, 3M targets programs that address related education, family, and community issues. Science and math education and youth development are top priorities. In addition to education, 3M also supports health and human services, the arts, and environmental efforts. 3M and the 3M Foundation donate millions to education, arts and cultural, health and human services, and environmental organizations.

To find out how your organization can sponsor the News or support the Triangle Coalition in other ways, click here. ___________________________________________________________