Senator details bill to boost technology education at ConVal High event

April 28, 2011

(Peterborough, NH) – For America to remain the global leader in science and technology it must also lead in science and technology education, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said today during a visit to ConVal Regional High School in Peterborough.  That is the goal, Shaheen explained, of her Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program—legislation that would give high school students greater access to innovative programs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.  Shaheen also met with members of the school’s team for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition, an example of the type of program her legislation would support.

“American ingenuity in the fields of science and technology has long been our country’s greatest strength and the driving force behind our economic success,” said Shaheen.  “This bill will help prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs, and pave the way for our future prosperity.”

“We are appreciative of Senator Shaheen's visit to see how ConVal High School's robotics team has been able to incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math into an enjoyable, hands-on learning experience,” said ConVal Principal Brian Pickering.  “We are excited about Senator Shaheen's efforts to assist more schools as they connect these real-world learning opportunities with their curriculum.”

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.  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.

A summary of the legislation is included below.

Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

The Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program is critical to ensure that American students are competitive in the 21st century workforce.  With an increase in jobs available in the Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) fields, our students must have access to quality non-traditional STEM instruction.  The Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program ensures that students have opportunities to participate in STEM related activities in high school and be mentored by professionals in STEM occupations. These experiences will inspire them to continue in STEM fields, either in the workforce or in postsecondary education.

This legislation establishes the Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program within the Department of Education. 

The Goals of the grant program are to:

- Provide opportunities for school districts to support non-traditional STEM education   teaching methods in secondary schools

- Broaden student access and interest to careers in STEM

- Encourage collaboration among students and professional mentors in STEM fields

School districts are eligible to apply for the Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program.  Grants will be awarded competitively, and priority will be given to applications from school districts that include rural, urban or low-performing schools, or that serve low income students.

Applications will be reviewed by the Secretary of Education.  Applications are required to describe how applicants will carry out STEM teaching programs that will use a non-traditional STEM teaching method; identify and recruit mentors; support teachers through stipends or other incentives; recruit young women and individuals from populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields to participate; identify private partners to support the programs; and evaluate the grant project.

Grant money can be used for the purchase of parts and supplies to participate in non-traditional STEM teaching methods; to provide incentives or stipends for teachers; to support costs for students to participate in STEM competitions; and for additional materials and support for a team such as equipment or facility use.

The district is required to provide a 50% match to the grant from non-Federal sources.  A waiver for the match is available if providing the funds would cause serious financial hardship.

Only two percent of the grant can go to the administrative costs incurred in running the program by the school district.

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