April 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

ED News
IES Updates
Other Agency News
New Reports

New COVID-19 Resources

ED News

sec summit

Safely Reopening America's Schools
On March 24, the Department hosted the National Safe School Reopening Summit, gathering key education stakeholders from across the country to discuss best practices on reopening schools quickly and safely.  The program featured remarks from President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Dr. Biden, Secretary Cardona, and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr.Walensky.  It also featured panels of students, educators, and school district leaders sharingtheir strategies for reopening and the impact the pandemic has had on their in-person instruction.  The summit concluded with the Secretary announcing the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  He also announced a nationwide tour of schools to highlight needs for reopening andtobegin the process of reimaging education).The summit was one in a series of steps the Department is taking to provide support and resources to K-12 schools as they work to reopen and equitably address the academic, social, and emotional needs of students most impacted by theCOVID-19pandemic.

On March 29, the Department and the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety at WestEd hosted a virtual discussion on “Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 through Summer Learning and Enrichment.”  The webinar elevated the evidence-based components of high-quality summer and enrichment programming, described how the American Recovery Plan (ARP) funds can be used to support their design and implementation, and detailed how these opportunities may be available this summer and beyond by building capacity, including the role of philanthropy and community-based partners. 

On March 31, the Department hosted the first in its “Lessons from the Field” webinar series, running bi-weekly through June and focusing on key topics across early childhood, K-12 education, and postsecondary education: safe and healthy environments; providing supports for students; and teacher, faculty, and staff well-being, professional development, and supports.  This initial webinar, “Safely Reopening and Sustaining In-Person Instruction,” provided a brief overview of how to implement  mitigation strategies and featured a panel of practitioners from several districts sharing lessons learned on preparing for and returning to in-person learning and information on how they overcame complications.   

ED Releases American Recovery Plan (ARP) Funds 
The American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (APR ESSER) fund provides $122 billion in relief for Pre-K-12 schools to reopen safely and address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of their students. On March 24, two-thirds of the funds—$81 billion in total—were made available to states. The Department encourages states to develop and implement plans to use the funding immediately to open more schools safely this spring and work to close gaps in education equity that the pandemic exacerbated. The remainder of ARP ESSER funds will become available after states submit the plans they are developing and implementing for using ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen schools and meet the needs of students to the Department.  

ED Seeks COVID-19 Best Practices via Request for Information
Consistent with the President's Executive Order 14000 on “Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers,” the Department is requesting information to enable teachers, faculty, staff, schools, districts, institutions of higher education (IHEs), early childhood education providers, other places of educational instruction, and States to share lessons learned and best practices for operating safely and supporting all children and students, including children and students with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, and other underserved children and students, teachers, faculty, and staff during the pandemic. The Department will consider this information when populating the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse. We will receive submissions on a continuous basis until September 2021.  

NAEP School Survey
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) school survey will contribute to the Institute for Education Science’s (IES) response to the Executive Order 14000 on “Supporting the Reopening of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers.” The survey is scheduled to collect data five times, once a month from February through June 2021. The initial data collection ran from February 22 through March 12, 2021 is available on the Monthly Dashboard.  As of February, 76% of schools were open for full-time, in-person, or hybrid learning. Data from January show there were critical gaps in access to in-person instruction, particularly for communities of color and students disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. See more information about the sample and how to interpret results.   

You for Youth (Y4Y) STEM Updates 
The Department’s You for Youth technical assistance portal for the  Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers has recently updated its STEAM course for educators by incorporating the arts for a more comprehensive STEAM educational approach. Out of school time is an ideal time for experiential, interdisciplinary, inquiry-based projects where creativity and collaboration mimic real-world careers ranging from fashion design to space exploration. The updated Y4Y STEAM course offers the skills and knowledge for educators to guide students on their STEAM pathways. 

Out of School Time Career Pathway Updates 
The new Out of School Time Career Pathways (OSTCP) grant program recently updated its webpage to include detailed award information. New Hampshire announced its plan to help students in four districts complete an industry-recognized credential and support students to complete paid internships in an in-demand STEM field with a local employer. In Tennessee, the OSTCP grant will launch the Tennessee Expansion of Computer Science Career (TEC) Pathways Project, which will expand computer science and STEM pathways in rural communities across the state.  The Utah 21st CCLC Out‐of‐School Time (UOST) Career Pathways Collaboration will build a bridge between out of school time programs and Career and Technical Education (CTE) where students will receive aligned career pathway programming. Iowa will expand OSTCP opportunities that will provide meaningful workplace experiences, such as job shadowing, internships and registered apprenticeships in high-demand industry sectors or occupations. 

STEM webinars

Coming in Early May - Summertime STEM

ICYMI: Archived STEM Webinars 

Differing Abilities in STEM, March 25 – featuring Dr. Temple Grandin.  Students of all abilities can be successful in the STEM economy and should be encouraged to pursue STEM experiences, coursework, and career paths. Watch Dr. Temple Grandin and esteemed panelists  explore how to create inclusive STEM environments for students of all abilities to be successful. Learn what the Department and others are doing to expand access for all abilities in STEM education and innovation.   

Inspiring STEM Interest, February 2 – Interest in STEM is essential to inspire new discoveries and technological advances. Learn about the latest efforts, research, and resources for inspiring STEM interest from respected Department and subject matter experts. This information can be incorporated into your learning environments to help inspire the next generation of STEM learners, researchers, leaders, and innovators.  

For archived STEM briefing presentations, check out ed.gov/STEM.


Digital Learning Challenge 
The Institute for Education Science (IES) announced its first sponsorship of an XPRIZE. The Digital Learning Challenge is designed to incentivize developers of digital learning platforms to build, modify, and then test an infrastructure to run rigorous experiments that can be implemented and replicated faster than traditional on-ground randomized control trials. The long-term goal of the competition is to modernize, accelerate, and improve the ways in which we identify effective learning tools and processes that improve learning outcomes. Learn more about the competition here.  

New What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guides 
The IES’ What Works Clearinghouse released two new Practice Guides. 

ED Games Expo 2021 
The 8th annual ED Games Expo will be a virtual and national event from June 1-6.  The Expo is a showcase of game-changing education technologies developed across 30+ programs at ED and across government. This year 180 developers and researchers have been invited to participate. For more information on IES’s Small Business Innovation and Research grant program that supports the development of educational technologies in three priority areas in two phases, visit here.  

American Recovery Plan Funding for IES  
The American Rescue Plan (APR) provides an opportunity for IES to push forward on modernizing its investment portfolio by supporting innovative approaches to dealing with learning loss and furthering our long-standing commitment to closing academic gaps. Two areas where the Director believes artificial intelligence can have a significant impact on education research are intelligent tutoring and students with special needs. 

Boys Have It;Girls Have to Work for It: Examining Gender Stereotypes in Mathematics
In 2020, IES awarded a grant to explore the origins of the gender stereotype that girls achieve in math due to effort and boys achieve in math due to natural talent and how to mitigate the impacts of this stereotype.  Read more in this IES blog.  

ERIC Search Engine 
The IES recently announced the new Education Resources Information Center’s (ERIC) Application Programming Interface (API) search tool.  This allows researchers to do a literature search that can be exported to Excel/CSV. This saves a lot of time and can support researchers in writing papers, research proposals, and in the course(s) they teach to graduate students. Check out this short 8-minute video to learn more.   

Other Agency News

Call to Action for Science Education 
You are invited April 8 to join others committed to science education and participate in this event at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). The project Call to Action for Science Education is working to promote evidence-based ways to prepare students to face the global challenges of the future. The committee will author a report with recommendations to support equitable, productive pathways for all students to thrive and have opportunities to pursue careers that build on scientific skills and concepts.  You can join sessions on:  

  • Creating Quality Science Learning Experiences for Post-Secondary Students  
  • Developing Professional Expertise for High Quality Science Learning Experiences in K-12 

Please register today.  NASEM is also seeking public input; complete the public input form


solar decathlon 

Solar Decathlon Virtual Village 
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is pleased to announce the opening of the Virtual Village on Monday, April 12.  The Virtual Village will be open for self-led tours any time starting April 12. Register here for live, virtual tours led by the student teams on April 12 and 13.   

Women in Radiation 
In honor of Women's History Month, EPA announced the new Women in Radiation History website.  At a time when women did not always receive equal credit for equal work, these featured women committed their lives to the advancement of humanity through STEM. This short video encourages students to pursue STEM education. Learn more at RadTown website and all of EPA's STEM Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides and Online Environmental Resources for Educators.  

FAA summit

FAA’s Aviation Safety STEM Symposium 
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Safety (AVS) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Career Symposium is an annual event designed to expose students to the world of aviation. The next event returns on April 29, as a virtual event for middle and high school students nationwide. STEM opportunities will be on full display as the FAA teams up with groups outside the agency to spark interest in aviation careers. Register today

STEM Video Showcase  
During this free 8-day, NSF-funded, showcase event, May 11-18, you will be able to view short videos depicting federally funded, cutting-edge, projects that are improving Science, Math, Engineering and CS education. You are invited to discuss the videos online with the presenters and other visitors.  Vote for your favorite presentations for the public choice award. Thousands of researchers, educators, higher ed faculty, and parents will take part. Sign up for updates here. 

Narratives of African American STEM Professionals
In 2020, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)invited middle and high school students to explore careers in STEMviavideo conversations with current African American STEM professionals.“Through the Window and into the Mirror” aims to inform, inspire, and be a starting point for students as they take steps towards having careers in STEM.Parents and educators can find more STEM at NMAACH.

New Reports

COVID-19 Resources


For Parents, Guardians, Caregivers:  

Please send questions on which the Department can be helpful to COVID-19@ed.gov.