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Carl Wieman and STEM Education
According to an article in the Huffington Post, Carl Wieman recently resigned from his position as Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). President Obama appointed Weiman in 2010 so he could begin “restoring science to its rightful place in America…”. Carl Wieman is known for his Nobel Prize in Physics, being an innovative scientist and a leader in improvement of education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Carl Wieman is a Distinguished Professor of Physics and is the Founder and Chairman of the PhET (Physics Education Technology Project) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, one of CIRTL’s 25 network institutions. He also directs the Science Education Initiatives at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which focuses on overall adjustments needed in science education.
During his time in the White House, Wieman released a report in early 2012 by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) titled, “Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” This analytical report informed America that, “If the United States is to maintain its historic preeminence in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics…then it must produce approximately 1 million more STEM professionals over the next decade than are projected to graduate at current rates.”
This sobering reality caused American policy makers, teachers, researchers, and students to understand that STEM in higher education has some serious flaws that need fixing. Prominent issues, such as retention rates in STEM disciplines, are now front and center for institutions of higher education. Wiesman believes that science education needs to become more ubiquitous in America and although the facts of the report were daunting, he believes that improving STEM education in America is not only a possibility, but a necessity.
“The purpose of science education is no longer simply to train that tiny fraction of the population who will become the next generation of scientists. We need a more scientifically literate populace to address the global challenges that humanity now faces…In short, we now need to make science education effective and relevant for a large and necessarily more diverse fraction of the population.”
– Carl Wieman