White House Seeks STEM Input, ED Announces CubeSat Challenge; September 2020 STEM 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) developed this STEM newsletter to provide 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
STEM Request for Information
ED News
Updated COVID-19 Resources
Funding Opportunities
Grantee Spotlight
September Events
Other STEM Agency News
New Reports
Department Resources

STEM Request for Information
On behalf of the National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC's) Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) and in coordination with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Science Foundation (NSF) requests input related to the implementation of the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan released December 2018, Charting a Course For Success: America's Strategy for STEM Education. This request seeks public input on STEM education including digital resources, strategic partnerships, computational literacy, transdisciplinary learning, and more. Any questions regarding the RFI should be directed to Cindy Hasselbring, Assistant Director, STEM Education, OSTP, STEM@ostp.eop.gov. The STEM Request for Information (RFI) comment period will close at 11:59 pm on October 19, 2020.

ED News

A Letter to America’s Parents

In an August 31 letter to parents, Secretary DeVos expressed how important it is that every student have access to full-time learning this fall in the ways and places that work best for their family -- online, in-person, or utilizing a hybrid approach.

“At the end of the day, we want everyone to have the choices to make the best decision for them. Some may choose to learn at home. Some may choose to return to their school. Some may choose to do a combination of both. Each of you needs to be able to choose what’s best for your own families because you know your children and their circumstance better than anyone. Your child. Your school. Your way…President Donald Trump and I are fighting every day for more options for every student and every family this fall.”

Kids First: Getting America’s Children Safely Back to School

wh reopen
In addition to the Secretary’s efforts (see story above) President Trump, Vice President Pence, and other senior Administration officials continue to reiterate the importance of safely reopening America’s schools.

The White House recently hosted an event, Kids First: Getting America’s Children Safely Back to School, with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary DeVos, parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, and students discussing how our nation’s schools can safely reopen. In a “From the Desk of the Secretary” update, Secretary DeVos shared the story of Marsh, a four-year old diagnosed with Down syndrome. Marsh’s mom said his life is simply not the same without in-person learning.

Following the event, the White House released the President’s policy for reopening schools safely. The document describes facts, medical science, and data underlying the policy, provides general recommendations for all schools, and offers guidance to protect high-risk teachers and high-risk students.

Secretary DeVos spoke with Gov. Mike Huckabee on “The Ingraham Angle” to reinforce the Administration’s commitment to getting students back to full-time learning this fall and empowering parents with options to make that happen. In another interview, the Secretary asserted, “Parents and children can’t be held captive to others’ fears or agendas. We have got to get to a point in this country where we are supporting our families and focused on doing what is right for students. … We know it can be done safely, and for those teachers who may be vulnerable themselves, there are other things that can be done so that they can continue to contribute in a major way.”

Secretary DeVos recently visited Forsyth Central High School, Georgia, to witness how they are safely resuming school. Students have access to in-person and virtual learning so they can choose the options that work best for them.

Spotlight on School Choice
This month, the Secretary made two announcements to support education choice for parents and students. The first is a $15 million grant competition to promote tribally directed education choice for Native American students. Accessing Choices in Education (ACE) grants will allow tribes – or other education entities partnering with tribes – to set up a variety of education options and services from which parents or students can choose.  Second, the Department announced it will award at least $85 million over the next five years for disadvantaged students from families with lower incomes in Washington, D.C., to attend private schools of their choice, under the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Upcoming STEM Webinars

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STEM Teacher Prep - September 15, 1:30-3:00 PM ET

  • Mia Howerton, Program Manager, Effective Educator Development, U.S. Department of Education
  • Kamal Hamdan, Director, Center for the Innovation of STEM Education, California State University – Dominguez Hills
  • Janet Stramel, Professor, College of Education, Fort Hays State University, 100kin10 Teacher Preparation Project Team
  • Colleen Hinds-Rodgers, National Director of STEM, Teach for America
  • David Stroupe, Associate Professor, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University
  • Niral Shah, Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Washington

Invention Education – October 27, 1:30-3:00 PM ET

  • Joyce Ward, Director, Office of Education and Outreach, U.S. Patent & Trade Office
  • David Coronado, Program Officer, Lemelson Foundation
  • Stephanie Couch, Executive Director, Lemelson-MIT
  • Kristen Moon, Program Administrator Technology and Engineering, Portland Public Schools
  • Radia Perlman, Dell Corporation, National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee

Guides to Education Technologies that are Ready Now
A group of 70 federally funded researchers and developers collaborated to produce a new series of Guides to Education Technologies. The guides cover the following topics: Early Learning; Mathematics; Science and Engineering; Social Studies; and, Special Education.  All of the resources were developed through an iterative process with feedback from teachers and students, and most were evaluated through small pilot studies to measure improvements in student learning. They are web-based and can be used on either computers, tablets, or personal devices and include a mix of no-cost products as well as ones that are fee-based. This Institute of Education Sciences (IES) blog has more details.

Early Phase EIR Seeks Peer Reviewers
The Department published in the Federal Register, a notice inviting applications for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program’s Early-phase competition. The EIR team needs additional peer reviewers with evaluation expertise. If you choose not to submit a grant application and will not participate in any other application to this year’s EIR competition, you may be interested in being a peer reviewer. Please review the call for peer reviewers document, which includes application directions.

Secretary DeVos Congratulates 2020 President's Education Awards Program Recipients
The Secretary recently congratulated the 2020 President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) recipients, recognizing nearly 1.75 million elementary, middle, and high school graduates on their educational accomplishments. The students come from more than 18,750 public, private, and military schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and American military bases abroad.

Updated COVID-19 Resources

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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. Please visit https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus for the latest education-related information, and address questions for the Department to COVID-19@ed.gov.

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Funding Opportunities

STEM Talent Challenge – Department of Commerce Apprenticeship Grants
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the STEM Talent Challenge.  This challenge builds on the momentum of EDA’s Build to Scale Program, which builds regional economies through scalable startups. This $2M grant competition will award up to $300,000 to eligible organizations that seek to develop and implement work-based learning models in STEM-related fields. Successful projects will complement the respective region’s innovation economy, building talent that will support and expand the capacity for innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth. Applications are due October 14, 2020.

CTE Mission: CubeSat Challenge Seeks to Inspire, Prepare Students for a Future in Aerospace
cube sat

Building on the Administration-wide commitment to expand student interest in the booming science, STEM fields, the Department launched CTE Mission: CubeSat, a national challenge to inspire students to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond. High school students from across the country are invited to design and build CubeSat (cube satellite) prototypes, or satellites that aid in space research, bringing space missions out of the clouds and into the classroom. Proposals are due October 16, 2020.

New Grants to Promote Institutional Resiliency and Expand Educational Opportunity for Students
The Secretary announced a new grant program to help institutions of higher education emerge from the coronavirus pandemic more resilient and better able to expand educational opportunities for students. The grants can be used to resume operations, support students, reduce disease transmission, and develop more agile instructional delivery models. This grant offers a priority for applicants that incorporate dual enrollment for high school students and a priority to applicants who plan to expand those opportunities to students in an Opportunity Zone or rural community. Applications are due October 20, 2020.

NASA’s STEM on Station Launches Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS)

SPOCS is a unique opportunity for postsecondary students to send experiments they build and design to the international space station. Teams of students will propose research related to bacteria resistance or sustainability research. Selected teams are required to involve K-12 students (or a subset) as citizen scientists as part of their experiment. To celebrate 20 years of continuous human presence on the space station, STEM on Station will fund five payloads developed by college student teams to fly to and return from the space station. Have a question?  Proposals are due October 20, 2020.

Presidential STEM Mentor Award Applications Now Open

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) are now accepting nominations and applications for the 2020-2021 cycle. PAESMEM seeks to recognize individuals and organizations that have demonstrated excellence in mentoring those that are underrepresented in STEM education and the workforce. Each individual and organizational PAESMEM awardee receives a $10,000 award, a commemorative Presidential certificate, and joins a cadre of over 300 PAESMEM alumni. Nominations are due December 18, 2020 and applications are due January 24, 2021.

STEM Grantee Spotlight

Gear Up for STEM – Elementary Summer Camp

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Gear Up for STEM Camp, funded by a Department EIR grant, is designed to expose elementary students to STEM careers by engaging students with community partners.  Students are introduced to jobs and knowledge about the local STEM industry. Students in 10 elementary schools across the Knox County, TN, school district were eager to be back in the classroom, engaged in coding, robotics, and working as an engineer through the engineering design process. Social distancing guidelines required the community partners to be virtual while the students distanced in the classroom. One community partner said, The transition to a virtual classroom allowed the students to not only learn about our career field but also experience some of the new challenges we are working through as remote employees in real life.

A teacher at one of the STEM Camps said, “Campers also experienced many other hands-on engineering design challenges. What a great way to take your mind off the pandemic and spend a week as a possible future engineer!”

The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges and to support the expansion of effective solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students. The Fiscal Year 2020 EIR awards will be announced later this year and you can see a list of prior awardees.

September Events

Invention Education Workshops + Office Hours On Tuesday, September 29, 2020 from 6pm to 7:30pm ET, the Office of Education at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will launch a monthly virtual professional development workshop for K-12 educators interested in integrating intellectual property (IP), innovation, and invention activities into their STEM curriculum.  Educators will learn about different types of IP including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. You can attend these free workshops on the last Tuesday of each month.  The following day, the USPTO will host monthly virtual “Office Hours” on Wednesdays from 3:00pm to 4:00pm ET where K-12 educators may ask questions regarding IP resources, and explore ideas for integrating intellectual property concepts into various subject matter. The office hours provide an informal way for educators to connect with the USPTO Office of Education on a regular basis. Learn more about the USPTO Office of Education at USPTO Kids or contact education@uspto.gov. 

Arts Education Partnership (AEP) Virtual Conference Join the Department’s arts and education colleagues for the 2020 AEP Virtual Gathering on Sept. 9, 11, 15 and 17 to gain knowledge and tools for advancing your work and to build broader and stronger connections in the arts education community. Sponsored in part by the Department’s Arts programs.  

stemie fest

The Department-funded STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) will convene STEM and inclusion experts to engage participants in learning about evidence-based practices in STEM for all children, and inclusion of young children with disabilities (birth to five) at STEMIE Fest.  The event will engage families, practitioners, and young children in a MakerFest, feature STEM Storybook Conversations, and showcase early STEM videos and games via our Media Cubbies. The event includes a variety of ‘live’ and asynchronous interactions and learning opportunities between 1-4 pm ET daily and free explorations at all other times between September 14-18, 2020. Join the new STEM4EC Community.

Other STEM Agency News

White House Announces Research & Development Priorities for Fiscal Year 2021
OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier and OMB Director Russell Vought recently issued the Administration’s FY21 Research and Development priorities.  In addition to Security, Industries of the Future, Energy, Environment, and Health, the priorities include a Diverse, Highly Skilled American Workforce, Research Environments that Reflect American Values, and Building Multisector Partnerships, among others. Departments and agencies should prioritize efforts to build strong foundations for STEM literacy, to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM, and to prepare the STEM workforce, including college-educated STEM workers and those working in skilled trades that do not require a four-year degree.  The memo is directed to federal agency heads as guidance for implementation. 

Administration Announces Billion Dollar Investment in AI/QIS
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced over $1 billion for the establishment of 12 new artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum information science (QIS) research institutes nationwide. Together, the institutes will spur cutting edge innovation, support regional economic growth, and advance American leadership in these critical industries of the future.

Department of Energy (DOE) Launches New STEM Website

doe all in stem

The new All in STEM website, a project of STEM Rising at the DOE, showcases the long list of programs and resources designed to ensure that the best and the brightest from every community in America enter the STEM workforce. Regardless of your background, all talent is needed to tackle today and tomorrow’s STEM challenges. Read the blog and browse through the new site today to find programs for you.

NSF Funds New Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) STEM Research Center
The new HBCU Undergraduate Success Research Center, a new initiative by Morehouse College funded by a $9 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), aims to study STEM education programs at historically Black colleges and universities. The HBCU Undergraduate Success Research Center, otherwise known as STEM-US, will ultimately research successful STEM programs from 50 HBCUs, collecting data and ultimately sharing best practices in bringing students majoring in STEM disciplines from underrepresented backgrounds to graduation. Part of the grant will be shared with Spelman College and Virginia State University, as well. 

New Reports

Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Student and Youth with Disabilities

A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is pleased to publish an updated, "A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities," August 2020, to advance the Department’s efforts in ensuring that all students and youth with disabilities are equipped with the skills and knowledge to achieve their post-school and career goals. In this updated transition guide, we added information about dual enrollment and the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.

Department Resources

For all things science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related, including computer science, visit the Department’s updated STEM landing page and currently open ED Grants page to apply. 


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