In an effort to advance a more equitable, prosperous science and technology ecosystem in the United States, the Biden-Harris Administration has championed transformative investments in science and technology across the nation. To build on this momentum, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has been leading the effort to develop a new federal STEM strategic plan. This included hosting six public listening sessions in March 2023 open to any member of the American public to provide input, suggestions, and considerations to inform the creation of the 2023 – 2028 Federal STEM Strategic Plan.
The listening sessions – which included over 200 organizational and private citizen speakers with a total of roughly 1200 participants – focused on five key areas of action that are needed to educate, train, employ, and foster our nation’s STEM talent, specifically education, engagement, workforce development, workforce, and research and innovation capacity. Key messages relayed included:
- The applications of science and technology extend far beyond the pages of a textbook or the walls of a classroom. In order to showcase the vast scope of real-world applications of STEM and to excite and inspire young learners, the future of STEM teaching must incorporate authentic STEM learning experiences, provide exposure to STEM professionals from diverse backgrounds, and offer opportunities to practice STEM in the real world.
- To remove structural barriers that prevent equitable participation in STEM, learning and working opportunities in the STEM ecosystem must be accessible to underrepresented, underserved, and under resourced populations in science and technology fields.
- Given the diverse needs and backgrounds of learners across our nation, STEM learning must be culturally relevant and must foster a sense of belonging in STEM.
- STEM education and workforce development opportunities have the potential to propel learners and workers to reach new heights in their academic and professional careers. To that end, it is pivotal to cultivate continuous educational and training pathways that bridge elementary and middle schools, secondary schools, vocational training, universities, and workforce reskilling and upskilling.
- Strengthening STEM requires a connected and invested ecosystem. Co-created partnerships are needed between educational institutions, academic and community scientists, nonprofit organizations, out-of-school programs, government, philanthropies, learners of all ages, families and caregivers, and industry.
- A consistent thread of concern conveyed at the sessions was about our nation’s current and future STEM teaching workforce. There is a great need to strengthen recruitment and retention of STEM educators, including opportunities for professional development and to grow their STEM knowledge and experience.
OSTP encourages all interested individuals and/or organizations to continue to share their thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any additional opportunities available to the public to engage in the development and eventual implementation of the new federal STEM strategic plan will be posted on the OSTP events website.