Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt

Nanotechnology bill takes steps to ensure safety

The May 20 editorial, "Safeguards on nanotech," mischaracterized the legislation (H.R. 5940) approved May 7 by the House Science and Technology Committee.

This bill amends certain aspects of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), the federal multiagency research and development program authorized in 2003. It does not actually authorize funding for any part of the NNI and certainly does not reduce the level of funding authorized for environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research.

On the contrary, the bill assigns responsibility to a senior White House official to ensure that a detailed implementation plan for EHS research is developed and executed.

The bill will strengthen and provide transparency to the federal research effort to understand the potential risks of nanotechnology.

Rep. Bart Gordon Washington

Chairman, House Committee on Science and Technology How to improve science's kid-appeal

In response to the May 16 article, "Can competitions raise 'cool' factor of math, science?": As this story observed, many students are still not drawn to the existing math and science options.

There are more than 6 million children in after-school programs in the United States (and 15 million more would participate if a program were available, according to the Afterschool Alliance). Only a tiny fraction of this population sees math and science as something they could be doing outside of the classroom. Meanwhile, evidence suggests that students have to be interested in science and math (not just good at it) if they are going to pursue it, and that interest is often linked to knowing someone like them who does science as a career.

There are many exemplary programs connecting young people to science and technology. I encourage your readers to support their local after-school programs and science centers in bringing fun science not just to competition winners but to all the students who we will need as future science and engineering workers.

Jason Freeman Berkeley, Calif.

Director, Coalition for Science After School In response to the May 16 article about using science and math competitions to lure more students into these fields: A name change would go a long way. "Science Fair" is probably not going to pique the average teenager's interest, but "Science Smackdown" just might.

Additionally, prizes provided should be relevant to the typical student. …