On February 24, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) held a joint event to recognize the latest recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The event, which took place on Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, featured remarks fromHead of OSTP and Deputy Assistant to the President Dr. Alondra Nelson and NSF Director Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, celebrating the achievements of over 100 PAEMST awardees. Following the ceremony, OSTP and NSF hosted a symposium on “Cultivating an Inclusive STEM Teacher Workforce”, and a Federal STEM Resources Expo.  

Nelson told the group, “As K-6 teachers, many of you may not always see the immediate benefits of your impact. You may not see the college acceptance letter or hear news of their first job, but the impact you make is visible to more than you know. It is critical and it cannot be understated. You are laying the foundation for so much more to come. This award speaks to your extraordinary commitment to cultivating your students’ talents and abilities in STEM.”

Panchanathan said, “The commitment of those here today has helped to transform the learning experience for students across the nation and has helped to spark students’ interest in the sciences and mathematics at an early age, for which I and everyone else are extremely grateful.”

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching:

Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST awards are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-6 and 7-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science (STEM) teaching. The awards are given to STEM teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, and the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and/or U.S. Virgin Islands). President Biden announced the most recent round of Presidential Awardees on February 8, 2022.

 “Cultivating an Inclusive STEM Teacher Workforce” Symposium:

Following the PAEMST award ceremony, OSTP, NSF, and the Smithsonian Institution hosted a symposium titled “Cultivating an Inclusive STEM Teacher Workforce.” Opening this event, Dr. Nelson shared the symposium’s goals to support educational equity in the classroom and cultivate inclusivity in the STEM teacher workforce, ensuring all Americans can fully participate in science, mathematics, and technology. Dr. Monique Chism, Under Secretary for Education at the Smithsonian Institution also provided welcoming remarks.

Monique Toussaint, Senior Advisor for the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans at the U.S. Department of Education, moderated a panel on what educational equity in STEM looks like. Distinguished panelists included: Talia Milgrom-Elcott, Executive Director and Founder, 100Kin10; Dr. Joi DeShawn Merritt, Associate Professor of Science Education, James Madison University; and Mimi Lufkin, CEO Emerita, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity.

Dr. Nafeesa Owens, Assistant Director for STEM Education at OSTP also moderated a panel of PAEMST alumni speakers. Dr. Melissa Collins of the John P. Freeman Optional School in Tennessee and Bruce Wellman from Olathe Northwest High School in Kansas shared the impact of the PAEMST award and reflections on their efforts to improve equity and inclusion in their classrooms and communities. The symposium closed after a brainstorming and ideation session lead by Drs. Carol O’Donnell and Amy D’Amico from the Smithsonian Science Education Center at the Smithsonian Institution.

Federal STEM Resources Expo:

After the Symposium, OSTP’s Dr. Carrie Wolinetz, Deputy Director for Health and Life Sciences, and NASA’s Mike Kincaid, Associate Administrator for STEM Engagement provided welcoming remarks to awardees attending the Federal STEM Resources Expo.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation launched CDC NERD Academy, a middle and high school public health curriculum that covers basic concepts in public health using scenarios based on a fictional, novel, emerging respiratory disease (NERD for short). Each STEM module includes a lesson plan, an educational video for students, an activity demonstration video for teachers, and a career spotlight poster. The modules are now publicly available at www.cdc.gov/scienceambassador/nerdacademy.

NASA launched its Aeronautics’ Flight Log Experience Program, which allows educators, students, and the public to sign up to fly their names on X-plane flights, drone flights, and more. Participants can create a virtual flight log that mimics what pilots use to log flight time and special training. Flight Log users can earn endorsement stamps and virtual mission patches by completing STEM activities. Teachers can have their entire class participate in the program. PAEMST award winners were the first public participants allowed access. The program is now open to the general public at www.nasa.gov/flightlog.

The Smithsonian Science Education Center shared with awardees their newly launched community research guide, “Biodiversity! How can we balance the needs of people with the needs of other living things?” The free guide, for youth ages 11–17, is the newest in the Smithsonian Science for Global Goals series. Taking a transdisciplinary approach to the topic of biodiversity, the guide aims to help young people generate customized, equitable solutions for the conflicts in their community and contribute to a more sustainable planet.  

A video of the ceremony, symposium, and expo can be found here: PAEMST Virtual Ceremony, Symposium, and Expo. Additional Federal STEM resources can be found at www.paemst.org. Award recipients receive a $10,000 gift from the National Science Foundation and a certificate signed by the President.

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