Energy Department Launches Science Education Campaign

Article excerpt

MENLO PARK, CALIF.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced a national campaign aimed towards getting the United States to strengthen its position as a leading producer of scientific talent by increasing the number of American students pursuing careers as scientists and engineers.

"The risks of a scientifically illiterate nation in the 21st century are too great for business as usual ... That is why I am announcing today a series of changes in the way the Department of Energy will address the growing and serious problem of science and math literacy in this nation," Abraham told several hundred researchers and graduate students at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, a Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory operated by Stanford University.

Abraham outlined a seven-step program named STARS: Scientists Teaching and Reaching Students. The program is designed to enhance the training of America's mathematics and science teachers; grow students' interest in science and math, especially in the critical middle school years; and draw attention to the women and men who have done DOE science so well--and thereby encourage young people and prospective teachers to pursue careers in math and science.

The program will award scholarships at national labs for math and science teachers. It will require labs including the Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National laboratories to host a total of 2,000 fifth-and eighth-graders for at least one day each year.

According to published studies, American students are lagging behind their overseas counterparts when it comes to math and science. U.S. fourth-graders ranked among the world's best in math and science but by 12th grade, the students trailed almost every other industrialized country, ahead of only Cyprus and South Africa, according to the Third International Mathematics and Science Study completed in 1999. …