The federal government published its five-year strategic plan for STEM education called Chartering a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education in 2018. Prepared by the Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council, the plan seeks to realign the focus of federal agency STEM education programs, investments and activities with the priorities and needs of both the administration and the national STEM community.
Two years after the plan’s release, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) hosted a webinar recently to highlight accomplishments made thus far. Speakers included Jim Blew, ED Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation & Policy Development (OPEPD); Cindy Hasselbring, Senior Policy Advisor and Assistant Director of STEM Education, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President; Susan Poland, Senior Analyst, NASA Office of STEM Engagement; Nafeesa Owens, Program Director, National Science Foundation Education and Human Resources Directorate; Louie Lopez, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) STEM Director; and Jean Morrow, ED STEM Lead and Policy Advisor, OPEPD.
During the national webinar, Hasselbring highlighted federal partnerships in STEM, including the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program which provides unique professional development opportunities to STEM educators.
“This program allows STEM teachers to work in a federal agency on STEM policy or programs for approximately 11 months,” said Hasselbring. “This is a great program if you’re interested in a wonderful learning opportunity that lasts a lifetime.”
In recent years, the AEF Program—administered by ORISE on behalf of DOE’s Office of Science—plays a prominent role in supporting the development and execution of the federal strategy for STEM education. Members of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are matched with Einstein Fellows to engage stakeholders where STEM disciplines converge—aptly called the ‘Convergence’ team. Einstein Fellows, sharing best practices from their classroom experiences, leveraged the resources found within federal partners to coordinate activities in support of transdisciplinary learning. Additionally, ORISE establishes relationships and places fellows with six of the federal agencies that are identified as being critical to the federal coordination necessary for executing the plan. In fact, three Einstein Fellows are active members of the Convergent working group, led by DoD mentor, Louie Lopez. These fellows provide insight into pathways for the Interagency Working Groups to engage students, build computational literacy and build STEM ecosystems.
The national recognition the AEF Program received during the recent webinar helps position the program as a leader in the education community. Not only does AEF expand teachers’ understanding of the challenges and possibilities in STEM education, but it simultaneously supports the federal government’s two-fold mission of engaging stakeholders at all levels and seeking to remove barriers to participation in STEM careers.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asset that is dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research, and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environmental contamination.
ORISE is managed by ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, for DOE’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.osti.gov.