Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon May 21, 2012 at 5:32 PM EDT
An exciting new report was released today by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academies. The report, “Discipline-Based Education Research; Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering,” provides some clear direction, backed by extensive evidence, on how to improve science and engineering education in this country. Improvement in this domain has long been a national goal. But despite good intentions and the launch of numerous programs over the past few decades, progress has been too slow.
The new study summarizes a large body of research and concludes that, across the science and engineering disciplines, scholarly studies clearly indicate that “student-centered instructional strategies can positively influence students’ learning, achievement, and knowledge retention, as compared with traditional instructional methods.” It specifically cites such approaches as making lectures more interactive, having students work in groups, and incorporating authentic problems and activities into coursework as being superior to traditional lectures, which remain the mainstay approach to teaching in too many classrooms.
- Posted byon May 18, 2012 at 11:20 AM EDT
Safety is the number one priority at the US Department of Transportation (DOT), so National Transportation Week is the perfect time for DOT to help launch the Obama Administration's critical Safety Data Initiative--an historic effort to make government data relating to every aspect of safety, from transportation to crime to consumer products, much more accessible, and to stimulate the development of innovative apps and services fueled by those data.
- Posted byon May 17, 2012 at 7:14 PM EDT
Earlier this year at the White House Science Fair, President Obama met Joey Hudy, a 14-year-old from Arizona who developed the “extreme marshmallow cannon.” Joey showed the President his business card. It had a simple motto: “Don’t be bored. Make something.”
Joey is a self-described “maker,” part of a growing community of young people and adults who are designing and building things on their own time. This weekend, in San Mateo, California, over 100,000 people are expected to show up at "Maker Faire" to see what community members are making. Sixty “mini-Maker Faires” are planned this year alone.
President Obama believes we need to give more young people the ability to be makers like Joey.
- Posted byon May 17, 2012 at 11:15 AM EDT
It's been almost a year since the President announced his National Robotics Initiative to accelerate the development of next-generation robots capable of working closely with human operators. The initiative launched with tens of millions of dollars in combined commitments from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Agriculture, and NASA, and has already resulted in a number of projects moving forward.
Then, last fall, the Department of Defense (DOD) added momentum of its own, with the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program explicitly encouraging proposals "for instrumentation supporting research in robotics."
The results are in! We count at least a dozen winning proposals involving robotics research in areas such as unmanned underwater vehicles; mobile robots for field assembly, repair and maintenance; autonomous seagliders for Arctic research; and micro air vehicles. These DOD grants to university researchers will allow them to invest in robots and other kinds of high-tech equipment to augment their research.
Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to DOD for its strong support of the National Robotics Initiative. We look forward to seeing all of these robots at work!
Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy at the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Chuck Thorpe is Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics at the Office of Science and Technology Policy
- Posted byon May 14, 2012 at 9:00 AM EDT
Three years ago, President Obama spoke at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., and called upon American scientists and engineers to work more closely with the international science community, even as he committed to boosting investment in domestic science and technology to new heights. That call for international collaboration resonated with U.S. researchers and research institutions for a number of reasons.
First, as the President noted, science, technology, and innovation often proceed more rapidly when creative minds from varied backgrounds share their insights. Second, especially in these economically trying times, more can be done when costs and risks are broadly shared. And third, a growing number of the challenges being addressed by science and technology—energy independence, better healthcare at lower cost, and improved food security, among others—are global in character.
- Posted byon May 14, 2012 at 8:15 AM EDT
Today, at a White House event, leaders from industry, academia, national labs, and government announced more than a dozen new commitments to advance the Administration’s Materials Genome Initiative—an ambitious challenge to double the speed and cut the cost of discovering, developing, and deploying new high-tech materials in the United States.
The President announced the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) in June 2011 as part of a broader effort to create new jobs, solve societal challenges, and enhance America’s global competitiveness by bolstering the U.S. advanced manufacturing enterprise. New, high-tech materials can revolutionize manufacturing, helping to make vehicles that are safer and lighter; packaging that keeps food fresher and more nutritious; and lightweight bullet-proof vests for police officers and soldiers, among countless other applications. But the pathway from discovery to commercialization can take decades.
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