Obama announced a new educational plan yesterday focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Education in STEM studies has been struggling in the United States for many years. A recent study shows that the U.S. ranks in the world 21st and 25th in science and math, respectively. The new “Educate to Innovate” campaign will aim to swiftly push the U.S. from these below-average rankings to “the top of the pack” within the next ten years.
The goals of this “Race to the Top” program will be to enhance STEM knowledge in children, giving them the skills to think critically in science studies and to expand STEM education and career opportunities to groups such as women and girls. Innovation is the key to achieving these goals, which is why states will have to compete for the funding offered by the campaign by offering the most innovative programs to young students.
Leaders from several companies, universities, non-profit organizations and foundations are teaming up to provide over $260 million of initial funding for this project. Along with Sally Ride and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, new science and mathematics educational programs are being assembled across America by such companies as Intel, Kodak, and Time Warner Cable.
Even Sesame Street has started to air a two-year plan to teach young kids about basic math and science. Discovery communications has also provided educational content to 60,000 schools across the country “[Success] depends on the dedication of students and parents, and the commitment of private citizens, organizations, and companies,” Obama stated.
Other initiatives outside of the classroom are being established in this ambitious science and mathematics movement. After school programs for kids are being implemented, national challenges are being created to inspire the design of science-related video games, and the White House is going to begin hosting an annual science fair. “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you’ve produced the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”
With all of these plans encompassing this exciting campaign, President Obama hopes to expand the education and knowledge of STEM, with a focus on the underprivileged, such as women and minorities. Obama stressed that the students will be the deciding factor of whether or not this campaign is successful. “I believe strongly that America’s young people will rise to the challenge if given the opportunity — and given a little bit of a push.”
Obama asserted that based on the general educational atmosphere and “hunger for knowledge” around the world, science and mathematics improvement will be the most important determining factor of how well the U.S. does as a country.