U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today led the introduction of a bipartisan bill with Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to expand opportunities for hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The Supporting STEM Learning Opportunities Act would invest in experiential learning opportunities to strengthen the pipeline of students entering the STEM workforce, especially from traditionally underrepresented groups like women and communities of color. The legislation seeks to address shortages in STEM expertise and strengthen innovation in the U.S. economy.
“For the U.S. to innovate and lead the world with a robust 21st century economy, we must invest in our future creators and thinkers through STEM education. Ensuring that the pipeline of STEM workers is diverse and reflective is key, and that’s why I’m introducing this bill to ensure students in New Hampshire and across the country can engage with exciting STEM opportunities outside of the traditional classroom,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’ll remain committed to working across the aisle to ensure we’re investing in the next generation of leaders in science and innovation.”
“In order for the United States to have a next generation workforce, we must invest in students early. Increasing opportunities for young students to engage in STEM education, especially hands on experiences, will prepare them for the 21st century economy. It is for this reason, I am proud to join my colleague Senator Shaheen in introducing this legislation,” said Senator Capito.
Full text of the bill is available here.
Through her leadership on the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen has been a strong advocate for STEM education and scientific research funding priorities. She recently reintroduced her bill, the Emergency Support for STEM Act, to provide $200 million for emergency grants to support hands-on learning opportunities in STEM education. She also sent a letter to the Department of Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, urging the support of STEM education through afterschool and summer programs as the American Rescue Plan is implemented. In addition, Shaheen has worked to secure scientific research funding for New Hampshire universities and businesses. Last June, she hosted a virtual roundtable with former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to highlight contracting opportunities for Granite State small businesses to support NASA’s ongoing space exploration technology research efforts and the Artemis program, which aims to land the next humans on the Moon. In 2019, Bridenstine joined Shaheen in visits to the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center and Mikrolar, a contractor for NASA. The events came on the heels of UNH’s selection by NASA for a highly-competitive $107.9 million contract award through the Earth Venture program.
Last year, Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation with Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act, was signed into law. Their bill created a $1 commemorative coin honoring the Concord educator who died aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986, with proceeds going to support STEM education. Shaheen announced that the coin had become available for pre-order, coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the Challenger tragedy.