STEM Education News

May 10, 2012

In This Issue:

Triangle Coalition Announces 12th Annual STEM Education Conference

Triangle Coalition’s 12th annual conference will focus on building world-class leadership in STEM education. On October 1-2, at the Hilton Arlington in Virginia, more than 150 leaders and stakeholders in STEM education will gather from across the United States to attend this year’s conference, entitled “World-Class STEM Education in America: Building on the Global Perspective.” Panels of experts and speakers will discuss some of the approaches that have been recognized in international settings for their success and balance them with current programs that are showing great promise and results in the United States.

Program topics will include:

  • Training and retaining world-class STEM teachers
  • Benefits and implementation of strong common curricular approaches
  • Innovations in benchmarking student success
  • Roles of technology in enhancing teaching and learning
  • State and district-level STEM education initiatives

For more details on the sessions, view the program agenda.

The conference will once again feature a time for networking and collaboration through a facilitated discussion for attendees to share what is happening in their individual areas and highlight the ways that they are cultivating a world-class STEM environment.

2011 STEM Education Conference

2011 STEM Education Conference - Einstein Fellow, DaNel Hogan

The culmination of the conference will take place as participants meet with their Congressional delegations to discuss legislative issues and STEM education as a national priority. These meetings, pre-scheduled by Triangle Coalition, will also allow attendees to share about the STEM education programs and initiatives underway in their home states and districts.

Organizations that wish to highlight their programs in front of this national STEM audience may participate as exhibitors and/or sponsors. To learn more about the various opportunities available, check out the Exhibit and Sponsorship Details. To learn more about the 12th Annual STEM Education Conference, visit


First Public Draft of the Next Generation Science Standards Available on Friday, May 11

The first draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is scheduled to be released this Friday, May 11. This first draft of the new science standards will be online for public comment for three weeks until June 1.

The Next Generation Science Standards are based on the National Research Council (NRC) Framework for K–12 Science Education, which describes the major practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that all students should be familiar with by the end of high school, and provides an outline of how these practices, concepts, and ideas should be developed across the grade levels.

Science educators, supervisors, administrators—in fact, anyone interested in the future course and direction of science education—are encouraged to carefully read these new science standards and submit comments online to Achieve during the comment period.

In partnership with the NRC, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the non-profit organization, Achieve, is managing a 26 state-led process to develop the standards. This will be the first of two drafts that are to be released for public comment during the NGSS development process. The final completion of the NGSS is expected by the end of 2012 or early 2013.

For more information, go to or check


President Obama Honors Distinguished Scientists with Fermi Award

On Monday, May 7, two of the Nation’s most accomplished scientists and leaders received the Enrico Fermi Award, one of the oldest and most prestigious science and technology honors bestowed by the U.S. government. President Obama personally congratulated the awaredees, Drs. Mildred Dresselhaus and Burton Richter, at the Oval Office. Then, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu presented them with their awards at the Ronald Reagan International Center.

The Enrico Fermi Award is administered by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science to recognize scientists, engineers, and science policymakers who have given unstintingly over their careers to advance energy science and technology

Dr. Mildred Dresselhaus, recognized “for her scientific leadership, her major contributions to science and energy policy, her selfless work in science education and the advancement of diversity in the scientific workplace, and her highly original and impactful research,” has an extensive portfolio that includes many discoveries leading to fundamental understanding in condensed matter systems. Dr. Dresselhaus has also served in many scientific leadership roles, including as the Director of the DOE Office of Science, President of the American Physical Society and the American

Association for the Advancement of Science, and Chair of the American Institute of Physics Governing Board, as well as Co-chair of the most recent Decadal Study of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics. She is widely respected and recognized as a premier mentor and spokesperson for women in science.

Dr. Burton Richter is honored “for the breadth of his influence in the multiple disciplines of accelerator physics and particle physics, his profound scientific discoveries, his visionary leadership as SLAC Director, his leadership of science, and his notable contributions in energy and public policy.” His extensive body of work includes the development of accelerator technologies that have resulted in several Nobel Prize winning discoveries, and his own 1976 Nobel Prize winning discovery in experimental particle physics.

He has served as a distinguished leader on many board and committees, including Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) where he pioneered advances and discoveries in accelerator science and technology; DOE’s Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee, where he was the chair and a principal advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Energy on the development of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP); the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB); and presently, on the newly established Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Advisory Committee (ERAC).

President Obama greets 2010 Fermi Award recipients Dr. Burton Richter, right, and his wife Laurose, and Dr. Mildred S. Dresselhaus, third from right, and her husband Gene, in the Oval Office, May 7, 2012. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Research Findings Emphasize Implementation of Common Core Math Standards

Dr. William Schmidt of Michigan State University released key conclusions from his research last week detailing how the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics can potentially improve the performance of U.S. students if implemented appropriately. In an event co-sponsored by Achieve, Chiefs for Change and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Dr. Schmidt presented a briefing on his work: Common Core State Standards Math: The Relationship Between High Standards, Systemic Implementation and Student Achievement.

Schmidt explained during the event that the CCSS for mathematics strongly resemble the standards of the highest-achieving nations, and that they have more focus, coherence and rigor than most of the state standards they replaced. He also found states with standards most like the CCSS for mathematics have higher scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), demonstrating that standards – and implementing them well – matter.

“What is clear in the research is that the Common Core State Standards for mathematics are an important improvement over the state standards that they replaced and that to see their full potential realized, they must be implemented well,” said Schmidt. “Their consistency with the international benchmark set by top-achieving countries shows that the CCSS are coherent, focused, and rigorous — key attributes of math standards from countries that outperform the U.S. on international assessments.”

Schmidt’s research also considered the perception of teachers, and what they believe it will take to implement the standards. A representative sample of teachers in each CCSS-adopted state revealed that 90% have heard

of the standards; 70% have read them; and more than 90% like the idea of common standards. In order to successfully implement the standards, 40% of teachers indicate they need new textbooks; 60% say they need new online resources for students; and more than 30% report they have not participated in any sort of activity preparing them for the implementation of the CCSS for math.

Dr. William Schmidt discusses CCSS for math research at a National Press Club briefing, May 3, 2012

“Because the Common Core State Standards demand such a fundamental shift in classroom instruction, if implemented well, they will increase student achievement and close achievement gaps,” said Michael Cohen, President of Achieve. “We must now focus on supporting our teachers and the education community as they work toward full implementation across all grades.”

The briefing challenges the education community to systemically implement the CCSS and demonstrate a clear commitment that all children will have the opportunity to learn challenging math content. If these conditions are met, the data suggest that the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can potentially improve student achievement.

To learn more about Dr. Schmidt’s research, check out the PowerPoint or watch the video of the event.


Member in the Spotlight:

Museum of Science, Boston Recognized as a Champion of Change, Bringing STEM Equality to Americans with Disabilities

Christine Reich, Museum of Science, Boston

This week, the White House honors fourteen individuals as Champions of Change for leading the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for people with disabilities. These leaders are proving that when the playing field is level, people with disabilities can excel in STEM, develop new products, create scientific inventions, open successful businesses, and contribute equally to the economic and educational future of our country.

One of this week’s Champions, Christine Reich, is the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Museum of Science Boston, a Triangle Coalition Member. Christine’s passion and expertise focus on researching ways to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities in museum learning.

In her Champions of Change blog post, Christine explains how the Museum of Science, Boston goes above and beyond the requirements of the ADA to embrace a philosophy that STEM learning is possible for all.

“We strive to create environments where people with disabilities can engage in meaningful science learning activities alongside their friends and family,” says Christine. “This approach has led us to create rich learning environments where content is delivered in multiple formats (through text, audio, images, and sometimes even virtual American Sign Language tours), and educational activities engage all of the senses.”

She explains that when individuals with disabilities can engage in inclusive, self-directed and social learning experiences at science museums, they feel empowered and excited as science learners. “It is our awareness of the positive effects of inclusion and the negative effects of exclusion that drives me and my colleagues at the Museum of Science, Boston to continually seek new and better ways to include people with disabilities in informal science learning. We want everyone to feel that learning about STEM is ‘for me.’”

Read more about the impact of Christine Reich and the Museum of Science, Boston, as well as the 13 other inspiring Champions of Change at

The Museum of Science, Boston, a Triangle Coalition Member, is one of the world’s largest science centers. The Museum of Science brings science, technology, engineering, and math to about 1.5 million visitors a year through its dynamic programs and interactive exhibits. To learn more about the Museum of Science, Boston, visit