Reflections on a Champion of STEM Education

I just completed my last college visit, thank goodness, and now we sit and wait in uncertainty. Will an acceptance letter come from our daughter's top choice, or will she have to reconsider? For now, we do our best to calm nerves and preserve sanity.

As we face the uncertainty brought on by the election, I find myself celebrating President Obama as a champion of education, STEM in particular. From the Educate to Innovate to CS for All initiatives, the Obama White House has promoted STEM education to help all children and youth uncover interests and abilities and prepare for fulfilling careers. He's lead coalitions between government and industry to fund and expand the numbers of students who reap the benefits. As policies of the next administration are uncertain, so is the direction of federally-funded STEM education. These thoughts are sobering when Nate Silver's analysis shows that education differentiated who voted for whom.

By U.S. Navy Photo [Public domain], via  Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Navy Photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Get Involved in Citizen Science, Spread Your Wings

Lately I've been hearing about citizen science, ways that people like you and I can get involved with science projects on the internet. That prospect is intriguing. It's an opportunity to explore interests or hobbies beyond our professional lives. There's iNaturalist, a site to share your observations of plants and animals, and for my town you can add sightings at the Austin Science and Nature Center. At zooniverse, you can help scientists analyze data about bat behavior in the wild, one NSF-funded project among many others. Perhaps, you have students or know teachers who would be interested in one of the projects. I'd like to hear what ways you find to get involved.