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November 24, 2009

Strengthening U.S. Math And Science

Education: President rolls out Educate to Innovate campaign

Susan R. Morrissey

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Students from Oakton High School in Virginia, demonstrate for Obama the robotic "Cougar Cannon" that they built.
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Courtesy of Bruce Fuchs
Obama stands behind the robotic "Cougar Cannon," which was demonstrated as part of an event to roll out the Educate to Innovate campaign. The robot was built and demonstrated by students from Oakton High School, in Virginia.

President Barack Obama has launched an initiative to bolster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in the U.S. through public-private partnerships.

"Today, we are launching the Educate to Innovate campaign, a nationwide effort to help reach the goal this Administration has set: moving to the top in science and math education in the next decade," Obama said during the rollout on Nov. 23. "We've got leaders from private companies and universities, foundations and nonprofits, and organizations representing millions of scientists, engineers, and teachers from across America."

To date, Obama noted, the private sector has committed more than $260 million for an array of initiatives under this campaign. For example, a collection of businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropic groups have joined to find and replicate effective STEM programs from around the country. Another business-nonprofit partnership is launching a competition to design science-related video games.

The American Chemical Society is a partner in one initiative: National Lab Day, a grassroots effort to reach out to 10 million 6th to 12th graders with hands-on learning opportunities. The effort calls on volunteers to work throughout the current academic year with local schools to improve lab experiences and culminates in a national lab event in May 2010.

"We are proud to respond to the President's call to elevate hands-on learning to an entirely new level in this country," ACS President Thomas H. Lane said in a statement. "Improving the ability of our young people to excel in science and technology is absolutely essential if we are to compete successfully in the global economy."

Obama also announced plans to host an annual science fair at the White House where winners from national science and technology competitions will be honored. "We're going to show young people how cool science can be," he stated.

But the campaign is about more than generating more scientists and engineers, Obama noted. "It's about an informed citizenry in an era where many of the problems we face as a nation are, at the root, scientific problems."

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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