On Science Fair day at the White House, new projects aim to boost science and math education


McClatchy Washington Bureau

As he hosts the annual White House Science Fair on Tuesday, President Barack Obama plans to announce some new efforts to encourage American young people to train for jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“When students excel in math and science, they’re laying the groundwork for helping America compete for the jobs and industries of the future,” Obama said in a statement. “That’s why I’m proud to celebrate outstanding students at the White House Science Fair, and to announce new steps my administration and its partners are taking to help more young people succeed in these critical subjects."

Part of the effort brings more employees from more private companies around the country into STEM mentoring. North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park and Wichita, Kan., are two of seven urban areas starting new mentoring programs for students, particularly for girls, minority students and low-income students.

The seven cities are winners among more than 50 cities that competed for the government-supported mentoring project, which includes some financial support and help from VISTA AmeriCorps. They also include Allentown, Pa., Chicago, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The White House announced that the effort, called US2020, added Chevron and Discovery Communications as new partners. The founding partners, who started the effort last year, are Cisco, Cognizant, Raytheon, SanDisk and Tata Consultancy Services.

The Department of Education also announced a $35 million grant competition to train STEM teachers. And the federal government is expending its STEM AmeriCorps to help low-income students at low-performing schools get involved in science and math-related fields in six Southern states _ Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Another of the new projects is a joint effort between NASA and Khan Academy to make lessons with simulations and games that help students learn some of the math and science behind going to Mars. The new website is www.khanacademy.org/NASA.

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