WASHINGTON, DC – The White House, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and Invest in US, hosted an event April 21 to highlight the importance of promoting active science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning for our youngest children and to celebrate a broad range of public- and private-sector leaders committed to promoting STEM learning across the country.
The White House received over 200 submissions of innovative STEM work from leaders across the country, representing state and local entities, foundations, non-profits, media organizations, technology companies, research institutions, and museums. Collectively, the commitments of these leaders have the potential to bring new active STEM content for our youngest children to millions of households across the nation. The early STEM learning announcements also mark progress on the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and the efforts of the Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all young children can reach their full potential, including students underrepresented in STEM. (You can learn more about the full set of commitments being made HERE.)
New Steps Being Taken by the Administration
In addition to the public and private sector groups that are stepping up, Federal agencies are deepening the resources and support they provide for early active STEM Learning. New actions being taken by the Obama Administration include:
- New Research Grants to Improve Early Elementary Science Outcomes: The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Institute for Education Science (IES) announced a new funding opportunity that will support a network of interdisciplinary research teams in exploring how early elementary school science teaching can improve education outcomes for children, especially those from low-income backgrounds and from communities underrepresented in science professions. IES will fund up to four research teams and a network lead to coordinate the work.
- New Suite of STEM Tip Sheets and Resources for Families and Early Educators: The Department of Education (ED), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Too Small to Fail (TSTF) have created a set of early STEM resources for families and educators of young children called Let’s Talk, Read and Sing about STEM!These tip sheets provide fun, concrete resources and recommendations for families, caregivers, and infant, toddler, and preschool educators on easy ways to incorporate STEM concepts and vocabulary into everyday routines, and suggestions for activities to engage young children in STEM learning. The tip sheets and “Let’s Talk about the World” poster are available in English and Spanish.
- Policy Statement on the Role of Technology in Early Learning: ED and HHS will release a joint policy statement later this year on the role of technology in early learning. ED is inviting the public to commenton a series of questions that will inform the development of the statement.
- New Research on the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready to Learn Program: This month, grantees from ED’s Ready to Learn program will be featured in reports that share findings and lessons learned about utilizing television and digital media to support math learning for young children. The reports include six papers by grantees and evaluators that will appear in a special section of an issue of The Journal of Children and Media, and a new report entitled “The Ready to Learn Program: 2010–2015 Policy Brief” released by the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University.
- USDA and NASA Creating New 21st Century CompetenciesLearning Activities: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is partnering with NASA to create modules for students, based on NASA astronaut training. Activities will be introduced with a video by a NASA astronaut and will consist of children engaging in mission-based activities.
Private sector groups from across the country are committing to the following actions today to increase access to high-quality early STEM education:
- The Bay Area Discovery Museumis launching Empowered Engineering, an initiative designed to bring high-quality engineering experiences to young children. Empowered Engineering will reach underserved children through partnerships with Title I schools and community-based organizations. Over the next five years, the Bay Area Discovery Museum will reach an estimated 11 million students and teachers, in their community and throughout the country.
- The Early Math Collaborative at Erikson Institute, in partnership with the City of Chicago and with support from the National Science Foundation, will launch Collaborative Math, a new professional development model designed to establish excellence in early math teaching in early childhood programs. The Early Math Collaborative will roll out at 28 Head Start sites in Chicago.
- Girl Scouts of the USAwill promote Girl Scout National programming that connects to early STEM education through targeted communications, such as blog posts and social media, which have the potential of benefiting more than 45,000 young girls. Girl Scouts of the USA will also distribute resource guides for parents on engaging young girls in STEM activities.
- The Heising-Simons Foundationwill establish a partnership with The Fred Rogers Company, to support the production of 25 episodes of Odd Squad, a math-focused television show on PBS Kids, and create accompanying games and apps. They will also hold free summer math camps in 14 U.S. cities serving more than 400 children.
- Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN)will donate 10,000 STEM-focused Family Kits to national organizations that serve low-income families, including home visitation programs, informal learning settings, and community-based organizations, to promote STEM learning at home.
- The Jim Henson Company with $3M of support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will launch a new PBS series, Splash and Bubbles, for children ages four to seven, with a marine biology curriculum that will inspire children to care about the ocean, learn about its “citizens,” and understand that it is a vital part of our planet. The series will be supported with free online destinations and digital apps, printed resources, and local events.
- The Lawrence Hall of Sciencein partnership with a local community college, supported by the National Science Foundation, is developing and piloting an undergraduate course on teaching science and mathematics to young children. The course will be made available online.
- The National Head Start Association and Lakeshore Learningwill increase access to Recycle Your Way to STEAM to every child and family enrolled in a Head Start program—growing from serving 20,000 children, educators and families to serving over one million nationwide. Recycle Your Way to STEAM is a set of activities that use recycled materials to introduce STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) concepts to early learners.
- Nickelodeon, through their kindergarten readiness initiative – Beyond the Backpack– will distribute 50,000 toolkits in English and Spanish and increase exposure to STEM concepts in underserved areas through the Beyond the Backpack On-the-Go SMS text program and Kindergarten Readiness Block Parties featuring Blaze and the Monster Machines.
- Project Lead The Way (PLTW) will form new partnerships with more than 400 elementary schools for the 2016–17 school year to expand their curriculum and teacher training, which immerses students in hands-on activities and projects that relate to the world around them. This expansion will grow PLTW’s elementary STEM-based program to 1,700 elementary schools across the United States.
- Sesame Workshop, the creators of Sesame Street, will develop Make Believe with Math, a research-based online course for educators which, along with other training resources, will be made freely available online.