Republicans on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology announced their top five priorities for the 115th Congress, with Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) emphasizing the creation of “transparent environmental policies based on sound science and focused on innovation rather than regulation.”
Tagged: STEM Education
It took only 25 minutes for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to advance 16 bills this week, including several of relevance to the ocean science community. Many of the measures were considered during the 114th Congress, and most had bipartisan support.
While students around the country were recalling organic chemistry processes and physics formulas during their end-of-semester exams last Friday, Congress was also at work. Following in the Senate’s footsteps, the House passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), a reauthorization of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology Education and Science Act of 2007, or America COMPETES, which was last reauthorized in 2010. The 2016 bill outlines policies for the National Science Foundation (NSF); the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and other federal science and innovation programs, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs.
Instead of sitting quietly at a desk with a pencil and notebook, schoolchildren are now encouraged to explore virtual ecosystems through an online game, build their own website, or propose and conduct an experiment. Technology and innovation are helping education become more interactive, engaging, creative, and hands-on in the 21st century, and improving literacy in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has become increasing important to prepare the next generation of America’s workforce.
A teacher in Boise checks his weather app and packs an umbrella while a Miami businesswoman decides to work from home because the local news announces her usual route to work is flooded. What do these two have in common? The information they rely on for their daily activities depends on observational data from the ocean. Some ocean observations provide real-time results, but others must be continuously collected for years before significant patterns and changes can be detected and analyzed. Due to the vital importance of observing systems to the benefit of our nation’s economy, national security, and scientific enterprise, the National Academy of Science’s Ocean Studies Board ad hoc observations committee held a two-day workshop to hear expert opinions on ocean observation systems as they draft a report prioritizing imperative ocean variables for climate research.
If you were to ask a graduate student what she expects to spend 42 percent of her time on as a science professor, her response might be research, teaching, or grant writing. It probably wouldn’t be administrative activities, such as documenting personnel expenses, formatting grant proposals, and drafting biographical sketches. This burden, which is a necessity to receive federal funding, was the subject of a recent House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology hearing.
A former patent clerk named Albert Einstein sketched notes on the theory of relativity in 1905. More than a century later, the long-standing theory was validated when the Laser Interferometer Gravitation-Wave Observatory detected gravitational waves originating from the collision of two black holes. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which makes possible scientific discovery from space observations to human genetics to volcanic influence on sea level.
On the House floor this week, Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-1) and James Langevin (RI-2) spoke vehemently in support of the National Ocean Policy (NOP), with the congresswoman calling it a “vital tool … to help ensure that our coastal communities and their stakeholders work together and coordinate their ideas and make plans to achieve local goals.”
At a hearing in front of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, the discussion centered not only the need to build more submarines but on the technological advances that will be required.
Representative Sam Farr (CA-20) opened the Marine Technology Society and the House Oceans Caucus Congressional briefing this week by noting his attempts over 28 years in Congress “trying to develop as much interest in the ocean as there is in space.”