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“Educate to Innovate” Aims to Jumpstart Science & Technology Education

November 24th, 2009

President Obama’s new “Educate to Innovate”  campaign aims to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The President launched the initiative with these words, “We’re going to show young people how cool science can be.” Having spent my entire career dedicated to the promotion of technology and innovation, I could not be more excited to hear such sentiments from the President of the United States!


The campaign expects to include Federal Government participation, as well as imput from leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies to work with young people across America to excel in science and math.

In fact, five major public-private partnerships are jumping in to harness the power of media, interactive games, hands-on learning, and community volunteers to reach millions of students over the next four years, inspiring them to be the next generation of inventors and innovators. $4.35 billion in Federal grants will be offered to schools who can innovate in STEM education and the private sector is stepping up with an additional $260 million in related funding and programs.

I like what Chuck Lawton had to say in his GeekDad post about this. “Part of what makes this exciting is the contrast between “Educate to Innovate” and the purely standards-based ‘No Child Left Behind’ initiative which had similar but broader goals for increasing educational competency. Regardless of where you stand on the merits of NCLB, a focus to improve test scores as the only metric for improvement isn’t as engaging or applicable for students as robotics competitions, computer programming in the form of games or other real-world applications of science. And corporations looking for the next wave of top thinkers, such as Intel, now have the ability to get involved.”

These remain exciting times in general, and while many say the President has too much on his plate, this kind of initiative has been a LONG time coming. I’m glad to see an adminstration willing to face the slide in America’s ability to educate in science and math. And more importantly, an adminstration willing to DO something about it!

By the way, parts of Tom Friedman’s recent column Advice From Grandma resonate perfectly with this. Friedman declares he is ”not ready to cede the 21st century to China just yet,” because you cannot commodotize imagination. And today’s technology allows us, he says, to act on our imaginations farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before.

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