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Get Students Doing, Science Chief Says

Office Of Science And Technology Policy

We can do better. That’s the bottom-line assessment of STEM education in the U.S. by John P. Holdren, the former Harvard physicist who now directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy, as President Obama’s chief science adviser. “Too many of our children, particularly too many of our girls and minorities, are steering away from science and engineering, and we’re trying to address that,” Holdren told Black Engineer magazine in a recent Q&A.

The Administration has two goals: moving American students “to the top of the pack” in science and math within 10 years, and by 2020 once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. And, he added, a big part of that is increasing and improving K-12 STEM education, which is why the White House is leading efforts to ensure that all middle and high school students have access to science labs where they can learn “by doing things rather than just being lectured at.”

A generation of scientists was inspired to their calling during the space race of the 1960s, Holdren told Black Engineer, and Obama thinks his plan for a revamped NASA, as well as the push for clean and renewable energy, can inspire this generation of students to study science, as well. If many of today’s students stay in school, study STEM, and “reach for the stars,” he added, the United States will reap the benefits of innumerable new discoveries.

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