As part of the Fellows Institute, the 2012 Class of SSP Fellows met this morning with Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
Dr. Holdren spoke to the Fellows about the importance that the Administration is placing on STEM education, including the recent announcement of the STEM Master Teacher Corps, working with the White House Council of Women and Girls toward more female inclusion in STEM fields, advocating for increasing math and science skills in K-12 classes, and strongly encouraging colleges and universities to address the steep attrition rate (60%) between students who enter college with the plan of pursuing a STEM career and those who actually obtain a degree in those fields.
Dr. Holdren also described how much President Obama enjoyed attending the White House Science Fairs and interacting with the students and their projects. Rebecca Grella, a 2012 SSP Fellow, even had a student, Samantha Garvey, an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist who was invited to attend the second White House Science Fair in February 2012, which was an example of the prominence the Administration is attempting to put on improving STEM education in the U.S.
The meeting included a question and answer period for the Fellows where they discussed the importance of providing incentives for successful STEM teachers, improving the minority achievement gap, and successfully training new researchers in the higher education system. Dr. Holdren finished by congratulating the Fellows for being selected and “for what you have done and will do to raise the game in STEM education.”
The SSP Fellowship, enabled since 2009 through generous support from the Intel Foundation, provides teachers financial and training resources to support and inspire the success of their most enthusiastic science students. SSP Fellows receive an $8,500 stipend, ongoing support, and attend a week-long intensive training, known as the Fellows Institute, in Washington, DC. Earlier in the week, Fellows also had the opportunity to visit their elected officials on Capitol Hill and meet with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.