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Senator details technology education bill at White Mountains forest laboratory

(Woodstock, NH) – To keep pace in the global economy, it’s imperative that American students are proficient in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said today during a visit to Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in Woodstock.  Shaheen visited the outdoor laboratory for ecological studies, learned about the facility’s role in environmental research and its programs to encourage science education, and discussed her legislation to give high school students greater access to innovative STEM education programs. 

“To stay ahead of our global competitors like China, and to prepare our young people for the jobs of tomorrow, we must support science and technology education today,” Shaheen said.  “Hubbard Brook is doing great work to help teachers present science in new, innovative ways to our students.  We need to do more of that, which is why I introduced the Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program.”

“We are pleased to have Senator Shaheen visit Hubbard Brook, the site of one of the world’s longest running and most influential ecosystem studies and where acid rain was discovered in North America,” said Hubbard Brook Executive Director David Sleeper.  “The Hubbard Brook community is particularly excited to learn about Senator Shaheen’s legislation to support STEM education, because new careers in science and technology will be essential to understanding and monitoring the changes affecting our natural world because of climate change and other human-caused disturbances.”

“Participating in the Research Experience for Teachers program at Hubbard Brook this summer has been wonderful professional and personal development,” said Rebecca Steeves, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at Lin-Wood School in Lincoln.  “Not only did it allow me to get into the field doing real research to energize my own curiosity for science, but I have gained many ways to share the incredible Hubbard Brook ‘experiment’ with my students.  Hubbard Brook research is being looked at all over the world and I feel so fortunate to have it right down the road—what an opportunity to get students excited about science!”

The Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program will allow secondary schools to compete for U.S. Department of Education grants to support non-traditional STEM education programs, from robot competitions to engineering software challenges.  It encourages schools to establish partnerships with the private sector, both for material support and to provide mentors who can serve as role models—further enriching students’ learning experiences.

U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) have joined Shaheen as co-sponsors of the legislation.  The bill has been endorsed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Autodesk, BAE, DEKA Research, FIRST Robotics, Insight Technology, the New Hampshire Association of School Administrators, the New Hampshire Association of School Principals, PTC, and SAIC.  STEM education program leaders Dean Kamen (FIRST founder) and Dr. Ralph Coppola (Real World Design Challenge director) have endorsed the legislation as well.

The Hubbard Brook Research Foundation supports the research performed at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, established in 1955 by the USDA Forest Service and which is part of the White Mountain National Forest. Scientists at Hubbard Brook have produced extensive databases on forest ecology, including research that provided evidence to support the Clean Air Act. HBRF provides education programs for undergraduate, high school, and middle school students, and works with teachers to integrate Hubbard Brook research into their science instruction through project-based STEM curricula.