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The NAEP Science Exam Is Getting a Major Update. Here’s What to Expect
Febuary 8, 2024

For the first time in 20 years, “the nation’s report card” is updating how it gauges students’ understanding of science.

The National Assessment Governing Board gave final approval to a new framework at the end of January that aims to better gauge how students use science in real life and to build a clearer picture of why American scientific literacy has declined over time.

The current National Assessment of Educational Progress in science uses a framework approved in 2005—before massive breakthroughs in every field of the domain. Since NAEP launched science tests under the current framework in 2009, there has been widespread adoption of neural-network computing and generative artificial intelligence; genetic engineering related to the CRISPR–Cas9 protein system; new understanding of particle physics thanks to the Large Hadron Collider; and the first image of a black hole. The world also experienced the warmest decade in recorded history and a global pandemic.

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Student Projects Qualify for First-Ever National STEM Festival
January 30, 2024

The U.S. Department of Education’s first-ever National STEM Festival will take place April 11-13 in Washington, D.C., celebrating innovative projects from students in grades six through 12 who won national competitions

One student demonstrated how artificial intelligence aids the early detection of Parkinson’s disease. Another found a way to develop low-cost prosthetic limbs through three-dimensional printing. Another explained how to create liners for heating, air conditioning and ventilating systems from milkweed and other organic materials.

They are among 100-plus project finalists from across the nation who will attend the U.S. Department of Education’s first-ever National STEM Festival from April 11-13 in Washington, D.C. Selected students from a pool of 2,549 applicants spanning grades six through 12 emerged from the National STEM Challenge competition late last year.

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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Resolution to Establish November 8th as National STEM Day
November 10, 2023

In a significant move for the United States, Senators Jacky Rosen and Shelley Moore Capito introduced a bipartisan resolution that formalizes November 8th as “National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Day.” This proclamation aims to celebrate and underline the pivotal role of STEM education in our nation while emphasizing the pressing need to strengthen and diversify the STEM workforce. Additionally, it coincides with the second anniversary of the launch of the Senate’s inaugural Women in STEM Caucus, a bipartisan effort dedicated to advancing women’s participation in STEM education and careers.

The importance of this resolution cannot be understated. STEM fields are the epicenters of the most sought-after jobs today and in the future. These sectors are crucial to our economy and the growth of our states and nation. Senator Capito aptly stated, “STEM fields are where the in-demand jobs are right now, and it’s where they will be in the future.” Hence, celebrating National STEM Day on November 8th inspires the upcoming generation to engage with STEM actively.

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May 13, 2023

The CHIPS and Science Act, aimed at kick-starting chip manufacturing in the United States, only began taking requests for pieces of its US $50 billion in March, but chipmakers were already gearing up beforehand. Memory and storage chipmaker Micron announced as much as $100 billion for a new plant in upstate New York. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), which was already building a $12 billion fab in Arizona, upped the investment to $40 billion with a second plant. Samsung is planning a $17 billion fab near Austin, Texas, and in September Intel broke ground on the first of two massive new facilities worth $20 billion in central Ohio.

Exciting as this is for the U.S. economy, there’s a potential problem: Where will the industry find the qualified workforce needed to run these plants and design the chips they’ll make? The United States today manufactures just 12 percent of the world’s chips, down from 37 percent in 1990, according to a September 2020 report by the Semiconductor Industry Association. Over those decades, experts say, semiconductor and hardware education has stagnated. But for the CHIPS Act to succeed, each fab will need hundreds of skilled engineers and technicians of all stripes, with training ranging from two-year associate degrees to Ph.D.s.

Engineering schools in the United States are now racing to produce that talent. Universities and community colleges are revamping their semiconductor-related curricula and forging strategic partnerships with one another and with industry to train the staff needed to run U.S. foundries. There were around 20,000 job openings in the semiconductor industry at the end of 2022, according to Peter Bermel, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Purdue University. “Even if there’s limited growth in this field, you’d need a minimum of 50,000 more hires in the next five years. We need to ramp up our efforts really quickly.”

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science instruction needs the same attention as math and English
December 19, 2022

A look at the challenges facing science education in California, nicely presented in this commentary from our colleague Jessica Sawko, statewide director of the California STEM Network.

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  James Brown

  Austin Hall




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