Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog

  • Expanding Opportunity through Open Educational Resources

    Using advanced technology to dramatically expand the quality and reach of education has long been a key priority for the Obama Administration.

    In December 2013, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a report exploring the potential of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to expand access to higher education opportunities. Last month, the President announced a $2B down payment, and another $750M in private-sector commitments to deliver on the President’s ConnectEd initiative, which will connect 99% of American K-12 students to broadband by 2017 at no cost to American taxpayers.

    This week, we are happy to be joining with educators, students, and technologists worldwide to recognize and celebrate Open Education Week.

    Open Educational Resources (“OER”) are educational resources that are released with copyright licenses allowing for their free use, continuous improvement, and modification by others. The world is moving fast, and OER enables educators and students to access, customize, and remix high-quality course materials reflecting the latest understanding of the world and materials that incorporate state of the art teaching methods – adding their own insights along the way. OER is not a silver bullet solution to the many challenges that teachers, students and schools face. But it is a tool increasingly being used, for example by players like edX and the Kahn Academy, to improve learning outcomes and create scalable platforms for sharing educational resources that reach millions of students worldwide.

    Launched at MIT in 2001, OER became a global movement in 2007 when thousands of educators around the globe endorsed the Cape Town Declaration on Open Educational Resources. Another major milestone came in 2011, when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and then-Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis unveiled the four-year, $2B Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT). It was the first Federal program to leverage OER to support the development of a new generation of affordable, post-secondary educational programs that can be completed in two years or less to prepare students for careers in emerging and expanding industries.

  • Calling on the Crowd to Help Increase Patent Quality

    Ed. Note: This article is posted in full on the USPTO website and is authored by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee.

    Protecting and promoting our ideas-driven economy is essential to economic growth. By issuing patents for novel and non-obvious inventions, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) plays a critical role in ensuring that America’s intellectual property system continues to be a catalyst for American companies and entrepreneurs to innovate.

    The White House and the General Services Administration recently announced the next round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program. As part of this effort, USPTO is seeking a fellow to help in carrying out the agency’s goal of “Using the Crowd to Improve Patent Quality,” specifically by ensuring that patent examiners have the best prior art before them during examination.



  • NASA Invites You to Become an Asteroid Hunter

    Today, NASA announced that it’s asteroid hunting season.  The Asteroid Data Hunter challenge is a $35,000 series of competitions to help identify asteroids in images taken from ground-based telescopes. The competition – which launches on March 17th and runs through August – focuses on developing new algorithms to significant improve asteroid identification software. The goal is to develop asteroid-finding algorithms that increase detection sensitivity, minimize false positives, bypass imperfections in data, and run effectively on all computers.

  • Super Materials, Super Vision, and Space Robots: World Class Research in our Nation’s Defense Labs

    Today, two premier Department of Defense (DOD) research labs, in collaboration with the Pentagon Channel, will debut a science-focused TV series called “Armed with Science,” shining a light on the importance of science and technology to national defense and the innovative work being done in DOD laboratories to help address the complex challenges facing the military. The pilot episode, airing on the Pentagon Channel today at 1:00pm and 5:00pm EST, will explore the cutting-edge research taking place at the Naval Research Laboratory and the Army Research Laboratory based in Washington, DC, and Adelphi, MD respectively.

    The Nation’s defense laboratories are critical to DOD's diverse missions and to keeping our country on the leading edge of innovation. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) works closely with DOD labs to develop policies and programs that can strengthen the Department’s in-house R&D capabilities and speed the development of new technologies. Adequately supporting the labs’ research budgets and infrastructure needs and helping to inspire, attract, and retain a world-class  science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce in this domain is essential protecting America’s national security and keeping our country on the leading edge of innovation.

    At the Army Research Lab, for example, scientists are working to study and develop “super materials” that operate in extreme environments to protect soldiers against threats. These materials, which scientists and engineers are designing at the atomic scale, will help make up game-changing electronics, munitions, and armor for the military of the future.

    And at the Naval Research Lab’s Space Robotics Laboratory, scientists are developing robotic technology that can help repair, reposition, or update satellites that are beyond human reach, some 20,000 miles more distant than the Hubble Space Telescope—many of which are critical for Navy and Marine Corps operations.

  • President Obama Greets Student Finalists of 2014 Intel Science Talent Search

    Intel STS 2014

    President Barack Obama talks with the 2014 Intel Science Talent Search finalists in the State Dining Room of the White House, March 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    President Obama today welcomed the 40 student finalists of the 2014 Intel Science Talent Search to the White House. These extraordinary high schoolers—representing 20 states—are in Washington, DC, to participate in the final competitive judging of their innovative research projects in computer science, microbiology, environmental science, engineering, and many other cutting-edge fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In greeting these STEM all-stars, the President emphasized his Administration’s ongoing and unwavering commitment to get more students inspired and excelling in key STEM fields in order to cultivate the next generation of American innovators, discoverers, inventors, and makers.

    Becky Fried is Senior Communications Advisor and Web Editor at OSTP

  • President Obama Welcomes top Science and Math Teachers to the White House

    PAEMST 2014

    President Barack Obama meets with Presidential award for excellence in math and science teaching winners in the East Room of the White House, March 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    For 101 of the Nation’s top science and math teachers, Monday was not your typical snow day. While DC-area students spent the day at home, the winners of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) trekked through the slushy streets of Washington to spend time with President Obama at the White House.

    These outstanding teachers came from far and wide to be recognized for their tireless work to equip America’s students with the skills they need to grow into the next generation of innovators and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals.

    This Presidential Award is the U.S. Government’s highest honor for K-12 math and science teachers. In December, President Obama announced this year’s 102 winners, who represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Department of Defense Education Activity. These phenomenal educators were selected from a pool of more than 950 applicants by a distinguished panel of leaders in STEM education at both the state and national level.

    Before meeting with President Obama, the teachers kicked off a three-day visit to Washington, DC, with a conversation about the future of STEM education in America with experts from the Department of Education, and participated in several professional development workshops with leaders from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Then, on Wednesday morning, the teachers received their award during a ceremony at the National Academies of Science.