June 2020 STEM Education Newsletter

STEM Newsletter Banner

STEM Education Updates from the U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education (ED or the Department) hopes this STEM newsletter will serve as constant source of opportunity, inspiration, and resources. The Department also maintains resources on its STEM landing page, including funding opportunities and archives of monthly STEM briefings. You can manage your subscription and you are encouraged to invite your colleagues and friends to sign up as well!   The Department welcomes your feedback and questions. Please feel free to share them at STEM@ed.gov.

Table of Contents
COVID-19 Resources
ED News
Funding Opportunities
Other Agency News
New Reports

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources
The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies are continually releasing and updating information to support schools, educators, families, and students regarding COVID-19. In addition to the links below, please visit https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus for the latest education-related information and address questions for the Department to COVID-19@ed.gov.

ED News


STEM Briefings Resume:  STEM & Distance Education
The STEM briefing series hosted at the Department will resume June 23, 2-3:30 pm ET. Our first webinar will focus on STEM and Distance Education. What are some of the best practices discerned since schools closed?  What does the future look like for online PK-12 STEM education? What resources are available to administrators and educators to maximize their impact? Speakers include Nithi Thomas, Partner at Learning Accelerator, Dr. Christine Anne Royce, past president, National Science Teachers Association, and professor of educational technology at Shippensburg University, and Kevin Santer, Michigan Virtual Online Teacher of the Year, Michigan Virtual.  You can watch live or the archived session.  

Funding Digital Learning
The Department’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) recently updated its Federal Funding for Technology webpage to include references to the CARES Act funding opportunities, as well as ESSA and U.S. Department of Agriculture opportunities, the Broadband Federal Funding Guide, E-Rate, etc.  This resource helps school districts understand available funding opportunities.

Hero Elementary

HERO ELEMENTARY,” a new PBS show produced under an ED Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Ready-to-Learn Television grant, premiered June 1 on PBS and PBS Kids. “HERO ELEMENTARY” is about a school for up-and-coming superheroes, where kids learn to master powers like flying and teleportation while exploring science along the way. A diverse group of super students works together to make the world a better place. The series will give children ages 4 to 7 important tools to help them solve problems by encouraging them to think and act like scientists. A preview episode is available now on YouTube

STEM Video Showcase
Two of the 11 Department’s grantee video submissions received recognition in the 2020 STEM for All Video Showcase sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Feeling Connected to Others won a Presenter’s Choice Award and Mathematics Reasoning Through Movement won a Facilitators’ Choice Award. We encourage more ED grantees to participate in the 2021 competition. Learn about more about federally-funded STEM projects at the STEM for All Multiplex, which features five years of searchable STEM videos.


Secretary DeVos Approves First Wave of Perkins Career and Technical Education State Plans
The Secretary announced the approval of the first two groups of state career and technical education (CTE) plans by the Department. On May 22, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire were the first to have their CTE plans approved under the new, bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on July 31, 2018. A week later, Secretary DeVos announced the approval of plans by Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Perkins V encourages states to expand opportunities for every student to access educational opportunities that will put them on the path to success. Each state crafted a plan to fulfill its promise of offering a robust CTE option for students following consultation with its key constituents representing education and the workforce, business and industry, and parents and community partners. Visit the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network for more details.

presidential scholars

2020 Presidential Scholars Announced
On May 21, the Secretary acknowledged the 56th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields. “It is my privilege to congratulate the Presidential Scholars Class of 2020 on their outstanding academic achievement, community service, and leadership,” said Secretary DeVos. “These exemplary young people have excelled inside the classroom and out. And, while they are facing unprecedented challenges as they graduate from high school into a world that looks much different than it did just a few months ago, their determination, resilience, and commitment to excellence will serve them well as they pursue their next steps.”  The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects the 161 scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations, and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. See the complete list of the 161 presidential scholars

The Family Room
Every Thursday from 3-4 pm ET, Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC), in collaboration with Turning the Page, facilitates educational workshops and discussions to help families connect with each other and break down feelings of separation during this time of unprecedented isolation.  These webinars also provide an opportunity to engage with a child psychologist and educational expert about current parenting issues and strategies to address your questions. Examples of partners that MAEC and Turning the Page will engage with during these sessions will include science museum educators, health experts, scientists, early childhood educators, and educational experts who work with diverse families across the country.

Funding Opportunities

IES FY2021 Funding Opens
The Department’s Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) released their FY2021 funding slates.   The STEM Request for Applications (RFA) supports research on the improvement of students' STEM knowledge and skills. The long-term outcome of this research will be an array of tools and strategies (e.g., curricula, programs, assessments) that are documented to be effective for improving or assessing students' STEM learning and achievement. The Career and Technical Education RFA supports research and the development of tools and strategies (e.g., curricula, assessments), as well as programs (e.g. career academies, career pathways) and policies (e.g., academic credit for CTE coursework; CTE certificates or endorsements at high school graduation) that are documented to be effective for improving learning, and academic and technical attainment in CTE. The Special Education Research Grants program also includes a STEM strand.   In addition, there is a new competition for research using National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) Mathematics Process Data for learners with disabilities. Please refer to the RFA for application deadlines

Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grant Program
The purposes of the TQP program are to: improve student achievement; improve the quality of prospective and new teachers by improving the preparation of prospective teachers and enhancing professional development activities for new teachers; hold teacher preparation programs at institutions of higher education (IHEs) accountable for preparing teachers who meet applicable State certification and licensure requirements; and, recruit highly qualified individuals, including minorities and individuals from other occupations, into the teaching force. This Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) contains one absolute priority for residency programs and two competitive preference priorities: 1) for Opportunity Zones; and, 2) for new partnership applicants. Applications are due July 2, 2020.

Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science (including engineering and computer science) teachers. The current solicitation invites creative and innovative proposals from institutions that address the critical need for recruiting and preparing highly effective elementary and secondary science and mathematics teachers in high-need local educational agencies. Visit their recently updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page. Applications are due August 25, 2020.

Other Federal Agency News

launch america

Celebrate #LaunchAmerica
Even if you missed the first launch of American astronauts on American rockets to the International Space Station from American soil since 2011, you can still celebrate and learn all about the May 30 event! Check out these webinars and resources for some great ideas.

Collegiate Wind Competition Virtual Awards Ceremony June 22
Join the 2020 U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC) participants, judges, and organizers for the first-ever CWC virtual awards ceremony held via webinar on Monday, June 22, at 4 p.m. ET. Awards will be given for the project development and turbine design portions of the competition, with remarks by Daniel R. Simmons, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. Register for the ceremony.

Compete for Desalinization Prize – Webinar June 23
The Solar Desalination Prize is a U.S. Department of Energy $9 million competition to speed up the development of systems that can use solar-thermal power to generate clean water from high-salinity water. U.S.-based individuals, teams, academic institutions, nonprofits, and private entities who have ideas for an innovative system with a pathway to its commercialization are encouraged to apply. Get some intel about this work by joining a June 23 webinar “Renewable-Powered Desalination: Innovative DOE Research and Open Funding Opportunities.”

Smithsonian K-12 STEM Education Action Planning Institute (API) July 28-30 
The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) is holding its first FREE, fully virtual leadership development event this summer, from July 28-30, and will tackle the challenge of ensuring science/STEM education remains a priority in classrooms and communities during COVID-19 and beyond. The API is open to educators, parents, community members, and industry stakeholders dedicated to ensuring continuity in K-12 STEM education for all students. Participating individuals and teams develop an action plan to guide their return to school in the fall.  Learn more and register today

NSF-funded Virtual STEM Experiences
While museums, science centers, zoos and aquaria across the nation have closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, many are bridging the social distance gap by offering a variety of free virtual resources and experiences that you can enjoy from the safety and comfort of your home.  Research shows that most learning happens outside the classroom, and NSF has long recognized the importance of these informal settings in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. A comprehensive list of NSF-funded projects with online learning products and resources provides a plethora of experiences.

Libraries Power-Up to Offer Remote Summer Learning Opportunities
The Public Library Association released results of a survey, which concluded that libraries are rapidly adapting services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Several libraries across the country are gearing up to provide summer 2020 programming from a distance, among them:

New Reports

The Condition of Education 2020
In late May, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released, “The Condition of Education 2020,” a congressionally mandated report to the country on education in America today.  The report presents 47 indicators under four areas: pre-primary, elementary, and secondary education (including family characteristics and internet access); postsecondary education; population characteristics and economic outcomes; and international comparisons.  In years past, it has also spotlighted several issues of policy interest.  For a snapshot of key information, check out the “Executive Summary” and “At a Glance” options.

National Science Board (NSB): Vision 2030
The NSB held 12 listening sessions around the country to hear directly from individuals from some 70 organizations, including colleges, universities, philanthropies, businevirtual STEMsses, and scientific and academic associations, as well as from NSF. The visionary report includes recommendations to ensure the U.S. remain preeminent in innovation and that all Americans have the opportunity to benefit from the Science and Engineering enterprise.

Scaling Out-of-School Time (OST) STEM Programming: A National Scan
Education Northwest recently conducted a national scan of OST STEM programs for the Overdeck Family Foundation. The goal of the scan was to describe the experiences of OST STEM programs that have successfully scaled their efforts and provide insights and recommendation for program leaders and funders seeking to expand OST STEM opportunities in their communities. This infographic provides a nice summary.

The Promise of Adolescence: Opportunities for the Education Sector
Drawing upon recent scientific advances, The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth (2019), a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), highlights the need for policies and practices that better leverage the developmental opportunities offered by adolescence. This new report examines how the nation’s education system can better support adolescents, and these findings and recommendations are highlighted in this brief.