Today, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Member Young Kim (R-CA) introduced a bill to expand access to educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The Innovations in Informal STEM Learning Act would provide merit-based grants to nonprofit organizations, out-of-school activities, and related programs engaging students ages prekindergarten through 8th grade in STEM programs.
Rep. Kim was joined by House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), in introducing the bill.
“As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and work to get our economy back on track, we must ensure today’s students of all backgrounds can learn the skills needed to join our STEM workforce and tackle our nation’s challenges. Proficiency in STEM fields will directly impact our economy as well as our nation’s competitiveness abroad,” said Kim. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to support programs that expose children to STEM activities, competitions and experiences out of the classroom and will continue to do all I can to support educational opportunities for all students.”
“As a proud FFA alum, I know exactly how valuable informal STEM programs are for teaching kids science and math skills. Extracurricular activities, competitions, and field experiences can get students excited about STEM and supplement their education. Rep. Kim’s bill to support more informal STEM activities will help engage students beyond the classroom and prepare the next generation to be leaders in scientific and technological jobs. I’m proud to join her in sponsoring this bill, and I look forward to getting it passed into law,” said Ranking Member Lucas.
“Teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity are just some of the skills necessary in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Opportunities to learn in STEM are all around us and can often occur in informal settings. We must continue to engage children, as young as pre-k, in STEM opportunities that teach skills for long-term academic success. I am proud to join Congresswoman Kim, Congresswoman Moore, and Ranking Member Lucas in introducing this legislation,” said Chairwoman Johnson.
“I am pleased to co-lead this bipartisan legislation to fund efforts to help Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and other school districts across our nation boost STEM education for K-8th students. Previous work done by MPS demonstrated that students exposed to STEM had better attendance, are more likely to take higher level math classes, and are gaining interest in fields that they previously had never heard of or never imagined themselves in,” said Rep. Moore. “And if we are going to close the gaps in diversity in STEM fields, we need to start earlier. It’s a win-win for our schools, our students, and our ability to develop the next generation of researchers and scientists who will help drive innovation in our country for generations to come.”
"Offering more young American students an opportunity to learn about the wonders of science, technology, engineering and math outside the classroom is essential to keeping our country competitive and strong,” said James Brown, Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition. “Far too many kids do not have the chance to participate in high-quality afterschool and informal STEM programs. Mounds of research show that great STEM experiences, supported by well-trained educators, in content-rich, hands on settings, are instrumental in broadening the participation of underrepresented minorities and those with an economic disadvantage in the best STEM careers of the future. The Innovations in Informal STEM Learning Act would empower the National Science Foundation to pioneer better methods to provide more children with these kinds of life-changing opportunities."
“For several years now Software.org has engaged in initiatives to increase diversity in the tech industry by working with its member companies and partnering with various groups to highlight the need to diversify access to software skills,” said Chris Hopfensperger, Executive Director, Software.org: the BSA Foundation. “The importance of these efforts were underscored in the software jobs report we issued in May, which showed that by providing the infrastructure and services that enable remote work for many Americans, enterprise software firms have provided the backbone for much of the US economy in the past year. The ‘Innovations in Informal STEM Learning Act’ introduced by Congresswoman Young Kim will provide valuable information about how to successfully engage children in STEM education - and potentially identify paths to a larger software-and-tech-savvy workforce.”
The bill has also been endorsed by the Girl Scouts of the USA and the Afterschool Alliance.
Rep. Kim is committed to supporting access to STEM education. She cosponsored and supported several House bills expanding STEM opportunities for students and early-career researchers during COVID-19, including:
- The Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R.144);
- The MSI STEM Achievement Act (H.R.210);
- The Rural STEM Education Act (H.R.2027); and,
- The Research Excellence through STEM Inclusion Act (H.R. 3809).