The Sciences

Obama kicks off massive science education effort!

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitNov 23, 2009 9:45 PM


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I just finished watching a live stream of a speech President Obama gave at the White House, pledging more support for science education in this country. Woohoo!

[Edited to add: the speech transcript is now online, complete with Mythbusters shout-out.]

Science, technology, engineering, and math -- STEM -- education has been struggling for years. This new effort, called Educate to Innovate, is "...designed to energize and excite America’s students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics." There are several avenues being taken, including partnering with the private sector. For example, Discovery Communications (the umbrella org for Discovery Channel and its sister channels) will be promoting science literacy, including a commercial-free science block of programming on the Science Channel, and STEM support for teachers. I was particularly excited to hear Obama announce an annual science fair to be held at the White House! As he said, it's time that people who have made extraordinary achievements in science stand beside athletes and others honored at the White House. And as if he were channeling my brain, President Obama said this: "We're going to show young people how cool science can be."

Ah, hearing that is like a symphony to my ears. To which I'll add: damn straight. Also, I suspect that unlike many political statements, this is no mere lip service. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, is involved with this project, and at the press conference were Adam Savage™ and Jamie Hyneman -- I know they'll work hard to make sure this happens. And it's up to all of us, too. As I find out more about this I'll post info here, and see what we all can do to make sure this not only becomes a reality, but persists as a concrete effort that will not sway with the political winds. Our future relies heavily on how well we understand science and technology, and if you read this blog you know full well how people manipulate the public's misunderstanding of STEM topics for political gain. This must stop, and the best weapon is an educated public.

Picture from Lara Eakin's Twitter feed.

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