July 2020 STEM Education Newsletter

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STEM Education Updates from the

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education (ED or the Department) hopes this STEM newsletter provides resources and inspiration. The Department also maintains resources on its STEM landing page, including funding opportunities and archives of STEM briefings. You can manage your newsletter 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

Corona virus

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

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Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary Betsy DeVos Visit STEM School in Wisconsin
On June 23, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Wisconsin with U. S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for a school choice roundtable at Waukesha STEM Academy near Milwaukee. Vice President Pence tweeted, “No family in America should be denied the ability to choose their child’s school because of their zip code or income.”

Secretary DeVos thanked President Trump and the Vice President for their continued commitment to America’s students, adding, “We cannot rest until each and every child in America can learn in ways and in places that work for them. All students need #SchoolChoiceNow.”


Supreme Court Decision a Historic Victory for Students
On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, that Montana’s prohibition on families using state tax-credit scholarships at religious schools was an unconstitutional violation of religious freedom. The day of the ruling Secretary DeVos released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the case:

"Today’s decision is a historic victory for America’s students and all those who believe in fundamental fairness and freedom. Each and every student needs the freedom to find their education fit, and today the Highest Court in the Land has protected that right by ensuring that families can use taxpayer funds to choose schools that match their values and educational goals, including faith-based schools. I applaud the Court’s decision to assign a manifestation of the 'last acceptable prejudice' to the dustbin of history where it belongs. Montana and other states should be very clear about this historic decision: your bigoted Blaine Amendments and other restrictions like them are unconstitutional, dead, and buried. Too many students have been discriminated against based on their faith and have been forced to stay in schools that don’t match their values. This decision represents a turning point in the sad and static history of American education, and it will spark a new beginning of education that focuses first on students and their needs. I’m calling on all states to now seize the extraordinary opportunity to expand all education options at all schools to every single student in America."

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STEM Webinars
The Department is pleased to resume its STEM briefing series as STEM webinars. The June 23 STEM and Distance Learning attracted nearly 800 viewers. The July 8 Early Math webinar featured funders and researchers sharing authentic, joyful math instruction methods for early learners of all abilities. The August 25 Cyber Education webinar will highlight workforce, teacher, and student opportunities. Future webinars will address STEM Competitions, STEM and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Convergence, Innovation & Entrepreneur Education. All Department STEM webinars are free and accessible. Related questions and comments can be directed to the Robert Noyce/Ellen Lettvin STEM Education Fellow: Patti.Curtis@ed.gov.

Office of Educational Technology (OET) Updates
A recent OET blog, Active Learning in Remote Education offers advice on how to help students engage with those around them or work in virtual environments to actively solve problems. The blog suggests three categories for reflection while designing instruction that promotes active learning in a remote education environment: self-directed learning, peer-to-peer learning, and self-paced learning and reflection. In an earlier blog, "Remote education and supporting elementary and secondary students with disabilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic," OET and the Center for Inclusive Technology Ecosystems (CITES) at CAST, developed two sets of reflection questions for district and school leaders. The questions can help gather the right people together to form and execute a plan for providing students with additional learning needs the best services possible during remote learning. Follow OET on Twitter and Facebook @OfficeofEdTech.

IES SBIR Announces 2020 Awardees
The Institute of Education Sciences Small Business Innovation Research (ED/IES SBIR) program funds entrepreneurial developers to create the next generation of education technology for students, teachers, and administrators in general and special education. Of the 22 new awards, 16 are for prototype development and 6 are for full-scale development. IES also announced two additional awards through a special topic solicitation in postsecondary education. Each of the new awards supports a project to develop a product to personalize the student learning experience or generate information that educators can use to guide practice.

New Grants Support Out-of-School Watershed STEM Experiences for Kids
The Department, in partnership with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), will award $2.35 million to 29 environmental education organizations. These grants support STEM programming for 91 local 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) sites and their students, many of which support students who live in high-poverty and underserved areas. Watershed STEM Education Partnership Grants allow environmental education organizations to collaborate directly with the 21st CCLC sites on the design and implementation of locally relevant, out-of-school-time (OST) programs that develop students’ environmental literacy and leadership skills as they improve their communities. The OST educators will increase both environmental literacy and field-based teaching skills by using components of the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) model along with other NOAA assets and expertise.

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News from the STEMIE Center
The ED-funded STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE) is offering five virtual 2-year Doctoral Fellowships for doctoral students to develop skills in learning how to promote equitable STEM learning opportunities by using developmentally appropriate and evidence-based STEM practices. STEMIE will be hosting their first virtual STEMIE Fest, September 14-18, 2020. This gathering of families, professionals, STEM industry members, faculty, and more will engage in innovative STEM learning experiences and develop a model to support all young children in early STEM learning. More information and details will be posted soon. You can follow STEMIE on Facebook and Twitter.

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National HBCU 2020 Conference Goes Virtual
On June 15, 2020, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) announced the 2020 Virtual National HBCU Week and Conference will be held on September 20–26, 2020. This year, the annual conference will be a virtual experience. The Initiative will partner with federal and non-federal allies to develop a calendar of online offerings to engage, inform, and deliver value to the HBCU community during the 2020 conference week. Additional information is expected by mid-August. Questions,suggestions, or concerns may be sent to: oswhi-hbcu@ed.gov.   

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IDEAs That Work: Resources for Infants, Toddlers, Children, and Youth with Disabilities
The Department’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is hosting a series of webinars focused on ready-to-use resources, tools, and practices from OSEP-funded grantees to support the educational, developmental, and social-emotional needs of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through remote and distance learning. Archived webinars and additional information is posted on OSEP’s IDEAs That Work COVID-19 Resource Page.

Supporting Families in Helping Young Children During Stressful Situations
The ED-funded National Center for Pyramid Model Innovation’s (NCPMI) promotes the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of children from birth through age five. NCPMI has many resources for families on helping young children cope with the challenges that might occur during stressful emergency or disaster situations. Check out its new infographics and tip sheets for families, including “Helping Your Child During the Pandemic,” “Tips for Helping Your Child During the Pandemic,” and “Tips for Supporting Yourself During the Pandemic.” You can also find these resources in Spanish in NCPMI’s resource library.

Creating Strong Families Through Online Learning
As learning environments transitioned from the classroom to virtual and in-home platforms, the West Virginia Family Engagement Center (WVFEC) began hosting a series of family-focused webinars to explore educational opportunities for students and families at home during school closures. The topics of the Strong Families Learning Series include social-emotional learning, physical and collaborative activities, virtual learning, practicing mindfulness, creating a learning space, maintaining calm, and making memories. In addition, WVFEC expanded its COVID-19 resources to teachers, administrators, and school staff by creating Strong Schools Online Learning Series (professional development available on request). Topics of this professional development included Teaching in a Time of Crisis: Caring for Yourself and Others and Teaching in a Time of Crisis: Communicating Care. WVFEC also offered weekly live webinars every Thursday at 12 noon and 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time as part of the “Quick Bites” program. Additional information on these resources may be found on the WVFEC COVID-19 Resource website.

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Funding Opportunities


National STEM Innovation Partnership Grant
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) opened a call for proposals to provide NASA-related STEM content and experiences to K-12 students during the 2020-21 school year. Applicants must be able to engage audiences across multiple states or the nation and provide experiential learning opportunities in-school or out-of-school. Applications are due July 20, 2020.

NASA Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions, Remote Opportunity Rapid Response (TEAM II RORR)
The NASA Office of STEM Engagement invites proposals from museums, science centers, planetariums, NASA Visitor Centers, youth-serving organizations, libraries, and other eligible nonprofit institutions via this TEAM II RORR Research Announcement. This is a one-time opportunity with a shortened response period. Proposals must be submitted electronically via the NASA proposal data system NSPIRES or Grants.gov. The deliverable shall be an innovative program, opportunity, or product capable of reaching a diverse set of students, with specific focus on underserved and/or underrepresented students in STEM and helping to minimize the inequities faced by communities without ready access to information and communication technology. Proposers shall amplify or create an innovative remote or distance learning program, opportunity, or platform/project to reach K-12 students using relevant NASA content during the 2020-2021 school year and/or in summer 2021 and continuing beyond. Projects are required to partner with a NASA Center or other entity and shall be aligned with NASA-themed space exploration, aeronautics, space science, Earth science, and/or microgravity. Awards will be given as cooperative agreements. Full proposals are due August 13, 2020. 

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New Student-Centered Grant Competition to Spur Short-Term Education Opportunities, Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth
On June 19, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new discretionary grant program designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop new skills, provide innovators and inventors with resources to expand existing businesses or build new ones, and encourage institutions of higher education to foster business development and innovation as America begins to recover from COVID-19-related disruptions to education and our economy. The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grants Program, funded through the Education Stabilization Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is open to all states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. To apply, states must demonstrate a burden created by the COVID-19 pandemic and propose a project that will support people living and working in their communities, specifically along one of two tracks: expanding educational opportunities through short-term career pathways or sector-based education and training programs; or supporting local entrepreneurship through small business incubators.  A pre-application webinar for state workforce boards was held June 29, 2020. Questions may be directed to ESF-RWP@ed.gov. Applications are due August 24, 2020. 

New Out of School Time Career Pathway Grant Opportunity
On June 22, the Department released a notice inviting applications (NIA) for a new discretionary grant program referred to as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Out-of-School Time Career Pathway (OSTCP) program. This grant program is open to state educational agencies that have developed a partnership to provide students expanded options to participate in a career pathway program, outside regular school hours, that leads to a recognized postsecondary credential, such as an industry‑recognized certification or a certification of completion of an apprenticeship in an in‑demand industry sector or occupation. Such programs should be aligned with an existing program of study for students so that in‑school and out‑of‑school time activities complement each other and maximize student preparedness for postsecondary education or a career. There are two competitive preference priorities: 1) for programs that promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and, 2) for programs that include students attending schools in rural areas. An optional letter of intent to apply is due July 22, 2020. The 21st CCLC OSTCP program webpage, includes the NIA, application, webinar, and other relevant information. Questions can be sent to: 21stCCLCcompetition@ed.gov. Applications are due September 21, 2020. 

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Discovery Research PreK–12 (DRK-12) Grant
The U.S. National Science Foundation's Discovery Research PreK–12 program seeks to catalyze research and development of STEM education innovations or approaches that can serve as models for use by the nation's formal STEM education infrastructure (e.g., schools, districts, states, teachers). A new solicitation, covering 2020 and 2021, includes a number of changes. It also invites proposals that address immediate challenges facing preK-12 STEM education as well as those that anticipate radically different structures and functions of preK-12 teaching and learning. The DRK-12 program has three major research and development strands: (1) Assessment; (2) Learning; and (3) Teaching and supports six types of projects: (1) Exploratory, (2) Design and Development, (3) Impact, (4) Implementation and Improvement, (5) Syntheses, and (6) Conferences across all three strands. Proposals are due October 7, 2020. 

Now Accepting Proposals: Rural Tech Project to Advance Technology Education
The Rural Tech Project is a $600,000 challenge to advance rural technology education and prepare students for the careers of today and tomorrow. The U.S. Department of Education invites high schools and local educational agencies to propose technology education programs that use competency-based distance learning. Up to five finalists will progress to Phase 2 and each receive an equal share of the $500,000 cash prize pool, on-the-ground-assistance, and access to virtual resources. One grand-prize winner will receive an additional $100,000. Register for the July 21 virtual information session to learn more.  Proposals are due October 8,2020.

Other Agency News

Senate Confirms New National Science Foundation Director
The U.S. Senate has confirmed Sethuraman Panchanathan, a senior administrator at Arizona State University, as the new director of the National Science Foundation, a leading funder of academic research. Panchanathan served as executive vice president of knowledge enterprise development and chief research and innovation officer at Arizona State, and had been a member of the National Science Board, the group that advises the NSF, since 2014.

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Virtual Internships with the Federal Government Announced
The Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) project gives federal agencies an opportunity to engage directly and remotely with talented U.S. college students. Virtual interns can work on a wide range of projects, including research, design, UX (User Experience), data visualization, social media, translation, video production, and more! College students can apply during the month of July, and e-internships begin the day after Labor Day and continue for eight months.

Women in Clean Energy Webinar Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) International is a multilateral initiative that aims to advance the transition to a low carbon economy through advancing women’s participation and leadership in the clean energy sector. Join keynote Speaker Senator Lisa Murkowski Chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. Get guidance on mentorships and resources to help young women pursue a career in clean energy.  Register for the July 15, 2020 webinar to learn more.

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