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Innovations in STEM Education: A Conversation With Pcast's Jim Gates

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An upcoming President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report will address the issue of improving pre-college math and science education in the United States. Its recommendations could include grants, a new federal agency, and increasing funding to programs that let students do science themselves, says University of Maryland's James Gates.

Gates is co-chair of a PCAST working group on science, math, engineering, and technology education. Gates says the National Science Foundation, the National Defense Education Act, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have helped foster technology innovation. However, he says there is "nothing like DARPA in the education system" and something like that needs to be directed at education.

Another step the federal government could take is to find ways to jumpstart market-based solutions, according to Gates. He notes that there is a change taking place in the education system, as 46 governors have agreed to sign a common core of standards in what could be a unitary thesis that will control what happens in the schools.

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