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STEM News Roundup: The Most Impactful STEM Stories of 2016

STEM News Roundup: The Most Impactful STEM Stories of 2016

What will STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) look like in 2017? Taking a look back at STEM throughout the past year might be a good indicator of what is to come. Here are highlights from Education World’s STEM News Roundup series, produced every week.

The Nation Steps Up to Take on Challenge of Providing Universal Computer Science Education

2016 was a year of incredible progress for bolstering computer science education in the U.S. As more and more jobs demand computer science skills, U.S. leaders—including the president—have made it a priority to ensure all students have access to the skills training in the K-12 sphere.

Some highlights from the year:

White House Appoints First Kid Science Advisors

In addition to creating the first-ever White House Science Fair, President Obama also appointed the country’s first kid science advisors. Obama was pitched the idea from a kid who thinks his age group can bring a unique perspective to the federal STEM agenda.

Over 2,500 kids applied for the positions, though just ten were selected for the first-time honor.

Still Searching for Answers on the Underrepresentation of Women in STEM

Why are women significantly less likely than men to enter and stay in STEM fields? Experts used 2016 to continue trying to answer that question. Some stand-out findings include:

2017 will surely be a year that researchers continue to delve further into this subject to increase women participation in the country’s most demanding careers.

Increasing STEM Is a Global Initiative

After a study conducted by IEA's TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College assessed the education systems of 60 countries and regions to compare global education trends, it was revealed that improving and increasing access to STEM education is a global initiative.

"Countries reported special initiatives that aim to increase student interest and participation in STEM subjects, including a 'Science Picnic' in Poland that attracted more than 100,000 visitors, and the establishing of the LUMA Centre Finland to inspire and motivate youth in STEM education through the latest science and technology activities," Phys.org said.

In other words, the U.S. is not alone in its effort to advance STEM education. Perhaps 2017 can be a year of unprecedented global partnership.

Despite Efforts, U.S. Students Still Struggle

Despite ground-breaking efforts to improve STEM education in the U.S., test results released this year from several international exams reveal our students are still struggling.

U.S. students scored sub-par in both math and science on the PISA exam and did not fare much better on the TIMSS exam. Overall, experts estimate that Singapore’s students, the world’s leaders in math and science, are a full three years ahead of their American peers.

The results indicate that work needs to continue being done in 2017 to improve U.S. students’ skills. 

How Will Donald Trump Impact STEM Education?

With President-elect Donald Trump taking over control in 2017, the question becomes: How will he impact STEM education?

Will he continue to see out Obama’s legacy of making improving STEM education a federal initiative, or will he step aside and let the states take charge?

Probably the latter.

This is indicated by an interview the Trump campaign gave with the Scientific American. When the Scientific American asked:

American students have fallen in many international rankings of science and math performance, and the public in general is being faced with an expanding array of major policy challenges that are heavily influenced by complex science. How would your administration work to ensure all students including women and minorities are prepared to address 21st century challenges and, further, that the public has an adequate level of STEM literacy in an age dominated by complex science and technology?

The Trump campaign replied:

If we are serious about changing the direction of our educational standing, we must change our educational models and allow the greatest possible number of options for educating our children. The management of our public education institutions should be done at the state and local level, not at the Department of Education.

Other top STEM stories from the year:

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