Tag Archives: stem

Getting a paper past pee review

OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but some kids take longer than others …

But seriously, this is a heartwarming and touching story of science reaching into childhood and yanking some poor unsuspecting kid into the world of … academia…

From Once Teased For Her Love Of Bugs, 8-Year-Old Co-Authors Scientific Paper.

REVIEWER THREE
Sophia was a bug loving 8 year old (reminds me of my neighbor) who’s mother put her in touch with the Entomological Society of Canada, and this eventually led to Sophia’s collaboration on a paper that was recently published.

The paper, published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, is called: Engaging for a good cause: Sophia’s Story and Why #BugsR4Girls by Morgaan Jackson and Sophia Spencer. (Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Volume 110, Issue 5, 1 September 2017, Pages 439–448), comes with this abstract:

Scientists, particularly those involved with nonapplied or “basic” science, are often asked to justify the broader impacts of their work, or more acutely, how they and their work contribute to society. Although it may be difficult to articulate the immediate importance of providing names for new flies, the inherent value of knowledge is undeniable. At times, however, the positive impact scientists have on society, or even on a single individual, can burst into reality in real-time. Here we examine one such example: a tweet and hashtag that circled the globe in support of a young girl being bullied for her entomological passion. We explore the responses to the tweet, within Twitter and in the larger media landscape, and what they mean for entomology, scientific societies using social media, and the promotion of women in science, and provide recommendations for increasing engagement on social media to improve representation of science.

Hat Tip: Adam

Notable Women in the Physical Sciences

Did you ever hear the expression, “You’re a real card!” Well, if you are a notable woman in the physical sciences, you just might be a card!

My sister has a project, and Amanda and my niece Koren and some others are involved, that puts notable women in the physical sciences on cards, with a bit of biographical information. The idea is to underscore women in STEM while at the same time getting cards! The long term model is to sell the cards to interested buyers, such as YOU, and use the net thusly obtained to get decks into classrooms.

So, here’s what you need to do. Click here, and buy two decks of cards. One, you keep and play cards with, the other, you give to someone, perhaps a teacher or perhaps a young female who has shown interest in the physical sciences. Or, perhaps, you place one of these card decks somewhere were cards go, like a local bar or coffee shop that has some games, or at the cabin or something.

In addition, at this early stage of their project, they could use some plain old donations, so please consider doing that as well.

I have already heard from several physical science teachers that these cards are great and that they are doing things with them in the classroom.

As a science writer, I was at first shocked and dismayed to find that the science writers in the deck were on the Joker card! But when I asked my sister about it, she told me the Jokers are the most sought after cards for the science communicators, because Jokers are the most flexible and a bit on the wild side, and can cope and adapt to any situation. So, I suppose that’s OK (or is she joshin’ me?).

Anyway, have a look, pass it around, pick up some cards (buy double if your game is Canasta). I am not joking when I say the cards are great!

Scratch Programming For Kids, By The Cards

Last October I reviewed Scratch Programming Playground, by Al Sweigart.

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.38.32 PMYou will recall that Scratch is a programming language that uses drag and drop elements to construct a program.

Individual objecgts, including “sprites” that can move around on the screen, as well as static graphic elements, sounds, etc. get their own code, and this code can be set up to start under various conditions, such as when something touches something, or the user hits a certain key, etc.

This allows for the development of very simple but fun programs, and vey complicated ones as well.

Scratch is normally implemented on an MIT web page, though it can be installed on a computer for local use. Increasingly, specialized versions of Scratch are being used for robotics. I have predicted that Scratch will for the basis of the programming language that will give normal humans access to the Internet of Things.

The image on the right is a segment of code for an implementation of Pac-Man on Scratch.

This programming code applies to a sprite that looks like the yellow Pac-Man thingie. The entire block runs when a certain (“start”) signal is received, causing the sprite to point in a certain direction and go to a certain location, to start the game.

The next block is repeated “forever” (not really, but until the program is terminated or the loop exited on purpose).

Then the various “if” blocks determine what happens. If Pac-Man’s red part (a little dot out in front of itself) touches anything black, which basically means clear runway to move along, then it moves forward. Then, a series of if blocks pick up signals form the game player’s arrow keys, causing Pac-Man to change direction. The controls basic movement of the Pac-Man sprite around the board.

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.45.35 PMElsewhere in the code, the Pac-Man eating monsters are controlled, and one of those uses the code shown here on the right. Once the game starts, this monster (“Pinky”) moves to a starting point, then for the entire game glides in the direction of Pac-Man until it is killed.

That gives you an idea. For more of that, and information about the book I recommend you use to learn Scratch, I mean, give to your kid to learn scratch, go here.

And now I have something else for you.

Scratch Coding Cards: Creative Coding Activities for Kids is a collection of cards that you, er, your kids, can use to learn Scratch programming. This is rated for kids 8 or above, but I think they can be easily used by younger kids, with a modest amount of adult help.

The cards come in sets that go together meaningfully, and they are color coded. For example, there is a set of “Let’s Dance Cards.” This includes coding examples addressing sequencing, music, taking turns, leaving a trail, etc.

The front of each card gives a visual indication of what the result is going to look like, and the back has the code. This is typically further divided (on the back) in to three parts: Get ready (what you need to have, know, etc.), the code itself (like the code blocks shown above, but generally very little bits at a time), and a “try it” prompt or a helpful tip of some kind.

There are sections or racing, hide and seek, story telling, and other projects.

At first I was wondering why they don’t just make this into a book, but then I remembered that kids like to play with things that are explicitly not books. Also, the cards to not have to stay together or in order. Indeed, you can take cards from different project groups and put them together to create new programming projects, to some extent.

Scratch Coding Cards: Creative Coding Activities for Kids is a fun addition to one’s set of programming tools. If you gave a kid a book on Scratch for one holiday or birthday, this may be a good followup next time around a few months later.

Super Cool Tech and Kids Programming Books

I just received two books that I will be reviewing in more detail later, but wanted to let you know about now.

Coding Projects in Scratch: A step by step guide by DK Publishers is a new scratch coding book. I got a copy a couple of days ago and have been going through it, and found it to be excellent. I’ll be including it in my Science Oriented Holiday Shopping Guide for Kids Stuff, which I’ll have out soon, but I wanted to give you a heads up first. From the publishers:

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-8-10-11-pm

Using fun graphics and easy-to-follow instructions, Coding Projects in Scratch is a straightforward, visual guide that shows young learners how to build their own computer projects using Scratch, a popular free programming language.

Kids can animate their favorite characters, build games to play with friends, create silly sound effects, and more with Coding Projects in Scratch. All they need is a desktop or laptop with Adobe 10.2 or later, and an internet connection to download Scratch 2.0. Coding can be done without download on https://scratch.mit.edu.

Step-by-step instructions teach essential coding basics and outline 18 fun and exciting projects, including a personalized birthday card; a “tunnel of doom” multiplayer game; a dinosaur dance party animation with flashing lights, music, and dance moves—and much more.

The simple, logical steps in Coding Projects in Scratch are fully illustrated with fun pixel art and build on the basics of coding, so that kids can have the skills to make whatever kind of project they can dream up.

Also to be featured in the Holiday Shopping guide, this very interesting technology book mainly for young folk. At first I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it, but then, once I started going through it, I couldn’t put it down.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-8-15-22-pmSuper Cool Tech is like a coffee table book for nerds. It is designed to look like a laptop (see the picture at the top of the post) and that is how you open it and use it.

See today’s best innovations and imagine tomorrow’s big ideas in Super Cool Tech. This cutting-edge guide explores how incredible new technologies are shaping the modern world and its future, from familiar smartwatches to intelligent, driverless cars.

Packed with more than 250 full-color images, X-rays, thermal imaging, digital artworks, cross-sections, and cutaways, Super Cool Tech reveals the secrets behind the latest gadgets and gizmos, state-of-the-art buildings, and life-changing technologies.

Lift the unique laptop-inspired book cover to see incredible architectural concepts around the world, such as the Hydropolis Underwater Hotel and Resort in Dubai, and the River Gym, a human-powered floating gym in New York City. Discover how a wheelchair adapts to its surroundings and learn how a cutting board can give the nutritional information of the food being prepared on it.

From 3-D-printed cars to robot vacuum cleaners, Super Cool Tech reveals today’s amazing inventions and looks ahead to the future of technology, including hologram traffic lights and the Galactic Suite Hotel in space. Perfect for STEAM education initiatives, Super Cool Tech makes technology easy to understand, following the history of each invention and how they impact our everyday lives, and “How It Works” panels explain the design and function of each item using clear explanations and images.

Designed in DK’s signature style, Super Cool Tech is the ultimate guide to exploring and understanding the latest gadgets and inventions while looking ahead to the future of technology.

Electronics for Kids: Great new book for kids and their adults

The simplest project in the new book Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity! by Øyvind Nydal Dahl is the one where you lean a small light bulb against the two terminals of a nine volt battery in order to make the light bulb turn on.

The first several projects in the book involve making electricity, or using it to make light bulbs shine or to run an electromagnet.
The first several projects in the book involve making electricity, or using it to make light bulbs shine or to run an electromagnet.
The most complicated projects are the ones where you make interactive games using LED lights and buzzers.

Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity! does almost no electricity theory. Thankfully. It simply delves in to messing around with electricity (and in so doing, provides basic theory, of course).

This is a book about how to play with electricity, not how to get a Masters Degree in electricity. In other words, any kid, the ones who seem destine for a career in electronic engineering and the ones who don’t, can get along in this book because it does not assume itself to be a building brick to a greater career. Yet the projects are interesting and informative and educational, and any kid who does a dozen of these projects is going to learn.

This kind of activity, which should involve parents for most kids, is the cure for the sense of depression you feel when you go to the toy store and look at the “science” section and everything you see is crap. Just get this book, order 50 bucks worth of parts, and get to work-fun. Then order some more parts, probably.

No kids' book on electronics would be complete without a batter made from something you get in the produce section.
No kids’ book on electronics would be complete without a batter made from something you get in the produce section.
This book for kids is very kid oriented, as it should be. One of the first practical projects you build is an alarm system to keep your parents the heck out of your room. You can make a noisy musical instrument. You can make a device that makes sounds some humans can hear (the kids, likely) and some can’t (parents).

Although soldering is done, it is minimal and, frankly, can probably be avoided by using alternative techniques. But really, it is not that hard and one should not be too afraid of it.

A lot of the projects use and develop logic circuits. Kids actually love logic circuits, I think because they end up rethinking a bit about how tho think about simple relationships. And, it is good to know this stuff.

Unlike many electronic kits you can buy (which can be quite fun and educational in their own right) this approach does not rely on ICs (integrated circuits) that produce magical results with poorly described inputs and hookups. There are some basic ICs, including gates, an inverter, flip flops, and a timer. These are very straight forward circuits that are mostly (except the timer) really just very fancy switches.

The web site that goes with Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity! gives you a list of all the parts used in the book, with enough information to find them easily on line or at a hardware or electronics store. The book suggests a multimeter, which is probably the most expensive thing on the list. (this one is perfectly good and is about 35 bucks.) Other tools include a soldering iron and related bits, a wire cutter, some scissors, tape, etc.

Many of the parts, including a breadboard, LEDs, hook up wires of various kinds, and pretty much all the resistors, capacitors, etc. etc. can also be used with the more sophisticated Arduino projects, should you end up going in that direction.

This is a really fun book. If you have a kid of the right age (maybe from six to 12, with 100% adult involvement under 10 years) get it now, secretly, get some parts, and work your way through several of the projects. Then, make it (and the parts) a holiday present. Then look really smart.

This chapter-end section give you an idea of the level of the projects.  There is a lot of stuff in here. All doable, but it will take a while to get through it all.
This chapter-end section give you an idea of the level of the projects. There is a lot of stuff in here. All doable, but it will take a while to get through it all.
Here is the overview table of contents (the book is much more detailed than suggested by this top level TOC):

PART 1: Playing with Electricity
Chapter 1: What Is Electricity?
Chapter 2: Making Things Move with Electricity and Magnets
Chapter 3: How to Generate Electricity

PART 2: Building Circuits
Chapter 4: Creating Light with LEDs
Chapter 5: Blinking a Light for the First Time
Chapter 6: Let’s Solder!
Chapter 7: Controlling Things with Circuits
Chapter 8: Building a Musical Instrument

PART 3: Digital Electronics
Chapter 9: How Circuits Understand Ones and Zeros
Chapter 10: Circuits That Make Choices
Chapter 11: Circuits That Remember Information
Chapter 12: Let’s Make a Game!

Appendix: Handy Resources

Women and Physics by Laura McCullough

Women and Physics by Laura McCulloch is a concise addition to the IOP Science Concise Physics series.

McCullough is an award winning Professor of Physics at UW Stout, and served for several years as the chair of that university’s Chemistry and Physics Department. Her research focuses on physics education, and gender and science. By both chance and design, I know a lot of people in this area, and I’m pretty sure IOP Science could not have had a better choice in authors for this important book.

How do you make a physicist? Well, you start with a child, and poke at it for 25 year or so until it become something, and maybe it will become a physicist. Meanwhile, the growing and developing individual passes through several stages. If the child is a male, those stages are called opportunities. If the child is a female, they are called filters.

McCullough writes,

When I walked into my physics graduate school on day one and there were twenty-four men and me, I knew that we had a problem. A problem begging for a solution, and because I am a scientist and what I do is solve problems, that moment was the beginning of what has been twenty years of research on gender issues in science for me. I don’t know all the answers, and I doubt the problem will be solved in my lifetime, but I know more than I knew then, and sharing that is part of the solution. Hence this book.

McCullough surveys and describes the filters, and the stages. She looks at how women are challenged at every stage. She describes what the field of Physics has done so far to remove gender biased barriers to women’s progress, and what needs to be done in the future.

I should probably mention that the sciences in general, the physical sciences in particular, and super-duper-especially physics (in its various forms) have a) not allowed women to progress fairly at any stage, ever, and b) still manage to have been shaped and influenced by the important work of a number of women. I’m sure you already knew that, but just in case, there it is.

This isn’t just about institutions. It is also about how individuals interact, about social and cultural stereotypes and biases, and individual decisions.

Here is how McCullough underscores the filtering process:

A little girl waits patiently at a science exhibit for another child to finish. Her brother butts in when he comes over to see it and she never gets her turn.

A young woman in high school physics is always relegated to be the record keeper and never gets a chance to play with the equipment.

A woman walks into her first day of physics graduate school and sees twenty four men and no other women.

A physics professor is called ‘Mrs’ by her students instead of ‘Dr’.

An assistant professor is placed on every departmental committee in order to
have female representation.

A woman makes a suggestion at her weekly research group meeting. Her idea is ignored. Three minutes later, a man makes the same suggestion and is applauded.

How many physicists are women? What does the process of filtering, which in some ways applies to all would-be physicists of any gender, do differently with women? How are these trends changing?

Two of McCullough’s core chapters are titled “What helps, what hurts: family and education” and “What helps, what hurts: family and career.”

These social and professional spaces are where the rubber meets the road. This is where, to use a physics metaphor for a social problem affecting physics, kinetic energy (desire and motivation) and friction (the status quo, power structures, the patriarchy) come into play.

Is there a “masculinist” and a “feminist” nature of science? This is the sort of question that can cause spit to come flying out of the heads of the most mild mannered seemingly non-sexist male scientists, especially in physics (many biological scientists know there are gendered features of science, at multiple levels). I suspect that in physics, this is mostly surficial gendering, which has profound impacts on women’s careers. In other sciences, human genders interact with other human genders, and non-human genders, in all sorts of ways. My own biological science with respect to humans had to be fully gender bound, as my field studies could only be done with male subjects. My female colleagues could only work with female subjects. I’m not sure if physicists have the same issues. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky (maybe) that in the naming of quantum-level aspects of matter-energy, male-female gender was never employed (as opposed to color, orientation, strength, etc.) Imagine what cold have been…

But I digress. McCullough writes about this aspect of gendering in the physical sciences as well, as ingress to the topic of covert discrimination.

I regard this book as something of a manual for women in physics, and for men who may be, should be, mentors. It is for teachers of physical science (or, really, all science) in high schools and colleges. These are all people who a) already feel they know what is going on with gender discrimination, but b) often mistakingly ignore that this is a separate subfield of study and no, they don’t. Parents of kids (boys and girls) who are leaning into the sciences would benefit too, but they are probably not that likely to read an academic book like this. Note to self: Suggest to Laura that she write a version of this for the families.

Women and Physics is available now, go read it.

DN Lee Is Now A Book! #STEM

DN Lee used to be a mere human, a biologist and a great person, but still, just a human. But now she is a book!

Urban Biologist Danielle Lee (Stem Trailblazer Bios) is part of a series exploring, well, STEM trailblazers.

You Probably know of DN Lee from her famous blog now at Scientific American but formerly at Scienceblogs, The Urban Scientist.

After earning degrees studying animal behavior, Danielle Lee wanted to share her love of science with young people. Through urban outreach she has brought budding scientists into professional labs. She’s walked them through the steps of the scientific method. And she’s shown them that science doesn’t have to be intimidating. In her popular Urban Scientist blog, Lee shares backyard science and outreach work. She also writes about her own research and other women and people of color. Discover what this influential scientist is doing to encourage the next generation of scientists.

Congratulations Danielle!

The Queen of Code

From FiveThirtyEight:

You probably don’t know the name Grace Hopper, but you should.

As a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Hopper worked on the first computer, the Harvard Mark 1. And she headed the team that created the first compiler, which led to the creation of COBOL, a programming language that by the year 2000 accounted for 70 percent of all actively used code. Passing away in 1992, she left behind an inimitable legacy as a brilliant programmer and pioneering woman in male-dominated fields.

Hopper’s story is told in “The Queen of Code,” directed by Gillian Jacobs (of “Community” fame). It’s the latest film in FiveThirtyEight’s “Signals” series.

Actually, I’m sure the readers of this blog DO know the name Grace Hopper. But anyway, this is a great film.

Who Are The Most Influential African Americans, Ages 25-45?

The Root 100 2014 is seeking your nominations. DEADLINE IS MONDAY. They are

…just about ready to celebrate the innovators, the trailblazers and the influencers in the African-American community who have caught our attention in the past year. [They] will announce The Root 100 of 2014 and celebrate these 25-45-year-olds who are paving the way in politics, entertainment, business, the arts, social justice, science and sports. Right now, it’s your turn to submit nominations for those you think deserve this coveted honor.

There will be many well-known figures on the list, but, each year, The Root 100 seeks to recognize those whose accomplishments may have gone unacknowledged on a national level. Our honorees are ranked according to a scoring system that measures reach and substance. Last year, our No. 1 honoree was then-NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, with about-to-be U.S. Sen. Cory Booker in second place. Both men’s public profiles have changed, so stay tuned to see what happens in 2014.

Other 2013 honorees included MSNBC’s new host Joy-Ann Reid, chef Marcus Samuellsson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson.
We will spend the next weeks collecting names, debating our choices and putting all the names through the stringent criteria we use to determine the best of the best.
The deadline is June 30th for you to weigh in. Submit the names of those you believe are making a difference in the black community. Just fill out The Root 100 2014 nomination form below.

Go HERE to nominate. I suggest a STEM related person.

The Need for Health and Biomedical Science Education Programs Aimed at Grades K–12 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Recent reconfiguration of federal funding for STEM education has resulted in important programs at the NIH losing their funding. Below is information on Health and Biomedical Science Education Programs Aimed at
Grades K–12 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


In the proposed FY 2014 budget, President Obama has set a policy that all STEM education funding be consolidated into three institutions, the NSF for graduate and undergraduate training, the Dept. of Education for K-12 STEM and the Smithsonian for informal education. Justification for this policy was improved efficiency and reduction of duplication of efforts, despite the government’s Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) Dec. 2011 report, Federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (stem) education portfolio, conclusion that “examination of the inventory data indicates very little overlap and no duplication among Federal STEM education investments.”

This policy is problematic because it dictates that NIH cease all STEM education programs, which includes the Science Educator Partnership Awards (SEPA) that fund BrainU (that is a specific program that is losing its funding). NASA and NOAA have also been prevented from continuing their STEM education efforts. These agencies have already begun policy implementation as Executive branch employees execute presidential policy. All NIH health education programs will disappear officially Oct. 1, 2013 unless we mobilize Congressional action to reinstate funding for SEPA. A full description of this problem can be found at http://nwabr.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/nih-science-education-programs-at-risk/.

This is problematic because a sub-mission of the NIH is to disseminate health information. This policy decision means that NIH will lose the ability to share health science educational materials for K-12 audiences. For scientists like myself who translate health information knowledge directly to teachers and indirectly to their students, this is a major setback. This policy sends the message that my colleagues and I are not supposed to be communicating with you as teachers.

Here’s what you need to do to raise your voice in support of SEPA

Contact your US Congressional Representatives and Senators. Below is a draft letter being circulated to all SEPA programs and participants, but you may find this letter a good template for making a more generalized show of support even if you are not a SEPA person. It only takes a few minutes to personalize this letter (1- 2 sentences is enough) and paste it into the contact your congress websites (see below). This is especially important for those of you in the south Metro and near SE MN who live in Minnesota’s 2nd District – U.S. Congressman John Kline’s district – as he is chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Our “ask” in these letters is that the funding for NIH health science K-12 education programs (SEPA) be reinstated.

We view neuroscience as part of health education since our message has been – and continues to be – that teaching learners about how their brains change through learning will improve their prospects and motivation to learn in all formal education settings AND in life as they move forward.

Please go to the websites for your congressional representatives and upload this letter with your personal touches to this campaign to save the NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program from which BrainU is funded.


More Information:

Health and biomedical sciences for grades K-12 are critical components of STEM education that help to ensure the nation’s capability to prevent disease and improve health. The proposed 2014 STEM education consolidation plan, however, eliminates K-12 health and biomedical science education from its traditional place in the portfolio of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and, by default, from the national STEM education agenda. No other federal agency supports programs comparable to those that would be lost.

More than 65 NIH-funded, K-12 health and biomedical science education projects currently operate in 40 states. These include “in-person” programs for more than 82,500 K-12 students and 5,750 K-12 teachers each year, and online programs that reach more than 20 million K-12 students and educators annually. NIH-funded exhibitions at some of the nation’s largest museums and science centers reach millions more students, teachers and families. With emphasis on engaging underserved populations, K-12 educational initiatives supported by NIH create thoroughly evaluated, science-rich interactive exhibits, curriculum materials, teacher professional development programs, student and teacher research experiences, and out-of-school learning opportunities.

Ongoing NIH-funded K-12 educational programs benefit the nation in the following ways.

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  • Improve preparation for, and access to careers in medicine, healthcare, biotechnology and biomedical research, with a focus on students from under-represented groups.
  • Address health disparities by increasing access to college and health professions careers for under-served students, who are more likely than their peers to practice in medically underserved areas.
  • Build public understanding and support of biomedical research and clinical trials through educational programs that emphasize the relationship between NIH discoveries and their translation into positive health outcomes
  • Encourage and facilitate involvement of biomedical research scientists in K-12 STEM education, and engage the resources of colleges, universities, medical schools and science museums in supporting K-12 STEM education.
  • Promote health literacy and better decision-making to address preventable health problems among America’s youth, reduce the burdens of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases, and enable consumers to make sense of genetic and other newly available health information.
  • Increase students’ interest in STEM topics through personally relevant examples from health and biomedicine that are aligned with recommendations of the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • For more than two decades, NIH has invested in the development of human capital and a unique infrastructure that is meeting our nation’s K-12 health and biomedical science education needs. These investments have produced significant, demonstrable outcomes that would not have been possible otherwise. Current K-12 programs sponsored by NIH, including the Office of Science Education, employ rigorous, results-oriented and cost-effective approaches to tackle major national issues, as listed below.

    Jobs: Healthcare and biomedical science are crucial elements of the economy. The US Department of Commerce estimates that healthcare accounts for $1.75 trillion in revenues and employs more than 14 million people (nine percent of the US workforce).

    Provider Shortages: The nation faces an acute shortage of healthcare workers in all areas, and the problem is expected to grow. The American Association of Medical Colleges projects that there will be a shortage of more than 90,000 physicians—including 45,000 primary care physicians—by the end of the decade. About 55 million people already lack access to a physician.

    Wellness and Disease Prevention: According to the Milken Institute, more than half of all Americans suffer from one or more chronic diseases, many of which are preventable. Healthcare spending is projected to reach almost 20% of the US gross domestic product by 2021. Racial and ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately from diseases such as cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS, but participate less frequently in programs that could help to reduce disparities.

    Without K-12 health and biomedical science education initiatives, our nation will be unable to solve many of its most pressing workforce, economic and healthcare problems.


    Draft Letter

    May 22, 2013

    The Honorable

    Dear :

    I write to express my deep concern that the President’s proposed “consolidation” of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education programs will eliminate the health-centered, precollege (K-12) education programs of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). For more than two decades, these programs have been the primary method by which NIH translates its basic and clinical discoveries to millions of children, families and teachers in the US.

    As your constituent, I urge you to consider the implications of this change and to support retention of funding for K-12 health-related education within NIH, enabling the Institutes to continue this broad, critically important pathway to health literacy and jobs.

    The programs slated for elimination have been a tremendous resource for K-12 students and teachers, especially those in minority and disadvantaged schools, for whom biomedical educational resources are very limited. Equally important, they are unique among all federal programs in enhancing health literacy and are crucial to NIH’s mission of promoting the health of our nation’s citizens. “In-person” programs engage more than 82,500 K-12 students and 5,750 K-12 teachers each year and online programs reach more than 20 million annually. Exhibitions at some of the nation’s largest museums and science centers reach millions more children, teachers and families

    None of the agencies delegated to assume responsibility for STEM programs – National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and Department of Education – have a health education priority. The proposed action will result in the loss of critical, high-impact health-focused programs. Consolidation will greatly reduce the number of students entering health and biomedical research careers, threatening our nation’s overall health and health literacy.

    NIH precollege programs enable biomedical researchers, health professionals and educators at universities, colleges, science museums and other organizations to connect with teachers, children and their families across the country. This outreach provides our communities with invaluable learning opportunities related to research, health, and wellness. Biomedical and health sciences are important areas of workforce development for the US economy in the 21st Century. Research demonstrates that NIH K-12 education programs are key to attracting students to these fields, thereby driving a robust biomedical economy and enhancing national health and wellness.

    As a participant in the NIH SEPA BrainU program at the University of Minnesota, . Understanding how brains learn and process information is critical health information that learners will use throughout their lives. This message is one from the 80+ programs that will be abruptly ended by the consolidation policy that does not distinguish health literacy from general STEM education.

    These essential programs must be retained so that the NIH can meet its unique mission of fostering our nation’s leadership in biomedical discovery and improving the health of its citizens. If this consolidation occurs, these effective programs and expertise will be lost.

    Please feel free to contact me about this issue. I would be glad to provide additional insights into how this program has impacted my classroom so we may work together to save these important NIH programs.

    Sincerely,

    your name