Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Multi-Year Initiative Encourages Hands-On Learning In Schools To Improve Science And Math Education
Today, National Lab Day (NLD) joined with Obama Administration officials to participate in hands-on discovery activities at schools throughout the Washington Metropolitan area. As a part of National Lab Day's official launch, today's events highlight the wide range of projects and matches between K-12 classes and experts achieved through the NLD website - www.nationallabday.org.
Administration officials including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden; White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra; Director, Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes; Undersecretaries of the Department of Energy Kristina Johnson and Steve Koonin; Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) John Holdren and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenko are participating in classroom projects at Washington, D.C.-area schools to engage students and encourage discovery through hands-on projects in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
"National Lab Day is a phenomenal program which has already brought together more than 4000 volunteers to work with educators and students across the country," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Too often our students think of math and science as something to read about but today's launch exposes them to new career fields and shows that learning can be fun, hands-on and engaging."
"National Lab Day is proud to bring together partners from the Administration, education, science, and artistic communities to promote inquiry-based learning," said Jack Hidary, National Lab Day Chairman. "Today's launch will benefit students, educators and our local communities by connecting K-12 kids with top experts and enabling them to learn through experimentation and discovery. The collaborations occurring across the country through our website -- www.nationallabday.org -- will inspire the next generation of innovators."
National Lab Day is a multi-year initiative launching today. This year-round, nationwide effort promotes hands-on learning through collaborations between K-12 classes and working professionals. The NLD website matches these students for collaboration with scientists, engineers, IT professionals, architects, and other experts who currently work in those fields. Launched in beta this past January, National Lab Day is already working with more than 1,000 schools in all 50 states to promote learning through exploration.
The grassroots effort is in response to President Obama's call to action less than six months ago for federal scientists to get involved in educational opportunities such as the NLD project. The Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health (NIH), NASA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), NSTA, ACS among others, have all responded to the President's call with direct outreach to their scientific communities and employees.
Governors have also joined in to support National Lab Day, and there are now projects in every state, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands taking place. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "National Lab Day is just what we need to get our kids interested in learning about how the world works and how we can make it a better place."
Partners and sponsors of National Lab Day include the MacArthur Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Science Teachers Association, National Institutes of Health, American Chemical Society, National Science Foundation, the Motorola Foundation and HP.
NLD has also partnered with The Creative Coalition to bring arts and entertainment leaders into the classroom in support of hands-on learning. Through this partnership, actors such as James Kyson-Lee, Rachael Leigh Cook, Erin Cummings and The Creative Coalition co-president Tim Daly have joined with students for hands-on discovery learning modules.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fully supports National Lab Day in a mutual effort to improve the quality of education for students across the country. "The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation applauds National Lab Day for increasing access to math and science education and emphasizing the important role that inquiry-based learning plays in developing a holistic educational environment in our schools," said Steve Barkanic of the Gates Foundation. "The Gates Foundation remains committed to this project and to the fundamental principal that access and exposure will prepare our children to compete in a global economy."
"Practical, hands-on experiences in the science and technology fields help prepare students for these critical needs. STEM issues are more important to our country today than ever in our history," said Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley. "National Lab Day is a great way to put high priority on engaging students in the excitement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics."
"Great teaching, volunteerism, and allowing kids to tinker in the classroom are essential ingredients for generating excitement and a desire to learn math and science. Today is a great first step in this multi-year initiative to improve the quality of STEM education that is so critical to America's future," said Hidary.
Leaders who have pledged their support for National Lab Day include several governors such as Martin O'Malley of Maryland, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, and Beverly Eaves Perdue of North Carolina; as well as several school and university chancellors such as Joel Klein for New York City schools, Robert J. Birgeneau of UC Berkeley, Michelle Drake of UC Irvine, President of the University of California Mark G. Yudof, and Charles Reed of California State University; astronaut and physicist Sally Ride; and Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz among others. Click HERE to see their statements.
To learn more about National Lab Day, please visit: www.NationalLabDay.org.
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