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Testimony of Anthony F. (Bud) Rock Chief Executive Officer, Association of Science-Technology Centers submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies March 22, 2012 Seeking Support for the Following Programs in FY 2013: National Science Foundation – Education & Human Resources/Informal Science Education National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Education National Aeronautics and Space Administration – STEM Education and Accountabilit
  [1]   Testimony of Anthony F. (Bud) Rock Chief Executive Officer, Association of Science-Technology Centerssubmitted to theHouse Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related AgenciesMarch 22, 2012 Seeking Support for the Following Programs in FY 2013:National Science Foundation  –  Education & Human Resources/Informal Science EducationNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  –  EducationNational Aeronautics and Space Administration  –  STEM Education and Accountability IntroductionChairman Wolf, Ranking Member Fattah, and Members of the Subcommittee  —  thank you for theopportunity to submit written testimony for the record. My name is Anthony (Bud) Rock, and Iserve as the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC).My testimony will address the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics(STEM) education, and will focus specifically on the fiscal year (FY) 2013 budgets for programsat three federal agencies for which your Subcommittee has jurisdiction: (1) the Informal ScienceEducation (ISE)/Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program at the National ScienceFoundation (NSF), which would receive $47.82 million in FY 2013, a $13.58 million (22%) cutfrom the FY 2012 estimated level of $61.40 million; (2) the education programs at the NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which would receive $11.3 million in FY2013, a $13.8 million (55%) cut from the FY 2012 estimated level of $25.1 million; and (3) theSTEM Education and Accountability program at the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration (NASA), which would receive $37 million in FY 2013, a $13 million (26%) cutfrom the FY 2012 estimated level of $50 million.Our RequestOn behalf of ASTC and the 359 U.S. science center and museums we represent, I urge theSubcommittee to continue its strong support for STEM education programs within the threefederal agencies cited above as its work on the Commerce, Justice, Science, and RelatedAgencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2013 progresses. Specifically, I urge you todo all you can to restore the proposed substantial cuts to NSF’s ISE program, NOAA’s Education Program Base (and, in particular, the Environmental Literacy Grants program(ELG) contained therein ), and NASA’s STEM Educati on and Accountability program. Inaddition, I hope you will consider including the following suggested report language thatwould clearly direct NSF to use the ISE/AISL program to continue to support publicengagement in STEM: The ISE program will invest in the design, development, and implementation of models,resources, and public engagement programs for STEM learning throughout the lifespan.Proposals can use a broad range of communication formats and experiences, such as mobile and broadcast media, virtual learning environments, exhibitions, TV, radio, films, citizen science,and after-school and/or out-of-school programs. Investigators should make a case for the  [2]   innovative contributions of such deliverables, and should advance an informal learning infrastructure that deepens the public’s—particularly students and teachers’—STEM expertise.”   Including this report language in the CJS Appropriations Bill is a priority for ASTC, and it isoffered in response to a change in the ISE program’s focus that has lessened the positive community impact science centers and museums can have through securing ISE awards. ASTChears from its members regularly  —  and has confirmed by viewing recent award listings  —  that theISE program has become centrally focused on formal (university-led) research to the detrimentof educational and public engagement efforts conducted through science centers.About ASTC and Science CentersASTC is a nonprofit organization of science centers and museums dedicated to providing qualityeducational experiences to students and their families as well as furthering public engagementwith science among increasingly diverse audiences. Now, more than ever before, we must spark the interests of our young people in all that science has to offer. This is exactly why community-based science centers throughout the country are providing unique educational programs thatexcite, energize, and enrich our understanding of science and its many applications  —  frequentlywith support from NSF, NOAA, and NASA, in addition to other federal agencies.Science centers are unique places where visitors can discover, explore, and test ideas and, mostimportantly, learn how science impacts their quality of life. Their offerings are varied, andinclude interactive exhibits, hands-on science experiences for children, professional developmentopportunities for teachers, and educational programs for adults.ASTC now counts more than 600 members, including 455 operating or developing sciencecenters and museums in 45 countries. Collectively, these institutions garner 82 million visitsannually worldwide. Here in the United States, your constituents pass through science centerdoors nearly 60 million times to participate in intriguing educational science activities andexplorations of scientific phenomena. The most recent Science and Engineering Indicators (2012) generally affirms this data, offering that:  Involvement with S&T outside the classroom in informal, voluntary, and self-directed settings  —  such as museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums  —  is another indicator of the public'sinterest in S&T.    By offering visitors the flexibility to pursue individual curiosity, such institutions provide a kind of exposure to S&T that is well-suited to helping people develop further interest. In the 2008 [General Social Survey], 61% of Americans indicated that they had visited aninformal science venue during the previous year. About half (52%) said they had visited a zoo or aquarium, and more than one-quarter had visited a natural history museum (28%) or an S&T museum (27%). Science centers come in all shapes and sizes, from large institutions in metropolitan areas  —  likethe Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus,and the California Science Center in Los Angeles  —  to smaller centers in less populated areas  —  like the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester, Virginia, the Mary G. HardenCenter for Cultural Arts in Gadsden, Alabama, and the University of Kansas Natural History  [3]   Museum in Lawrence, Kansas. ASTC works with science centers and museums  —  small, large,and everywhere in-between  —  to educate and inform visitors on critical societal issues, locallyand globally, where understanding of and engagement with science are essential. As liaisonsbetween the science community and the public, science centers are ideally positioned to heightenawareness of critical issues including energy, the environment, infectious diseases, and space;increase understanding of important new technologies; and promote meaningful informed debatebetween citizens, scientists, policymakers, and the local community.Science Centers as an Integral Part of the  Nation’s Educational InfrastructureScience centers are physical  —  and virtual  —  places where science and citizens meet. Many havescientists on staff, and some feature research facilities on-site. Through exhibits andprogramming  —  like lectures and science cafés  —  science centers bring current research findingsto the public while encouraging discussion and debate of current science issues. More and more,science centers are also getting members of the public involved in research projects themselves.Our centers reach a wide audience, a significant portion of which are school groups. Here in theU.S., 90% of our members offer school field trips, and we estimate that nearly 11 millionchildren attend science centers and museums as part of those groups each year. Field trips,however, are just the beginning of what science centers and museums con tribute to our country’s educational infrastructure, as:    90% offer classes and demonstrations    89% offer school outreach programs    82% offer workshops or institutes for teachers    75% offer curriculum materials    71% offer programs for home-schoolers    56% offer after-school programs    41% offer programs that target senior citizens, and    39% offer youth employment programs.The Importance of Federal Support for STEM EducationAs the Subcommittee knows, there is a strong consensus that improving STEM education iscritical to the n ation’s economic strength and global competitiveness in the 21st centur  y. Reports like the National Academies’  Rising Above the Gathering Storm (2005) and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology ’s   Prepare and Inspire (2010) have emphasizedthe need to attract and educate the next generation of American scientists and innovators, andhave recommended that we increase our talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science andmathematics education. Clearly, in order to improve STEM education, we must draw on a fullrange of learning opportunities and experiences, including those in non-school settings.In its report entitled  Learning Science in Informal Environments: People Places, and Pursuits  (2009), the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies said “ beyond theschoolhouse door, opportunities for science learning abound... ” The NRC found, among otherthings, that there is ample evidence to suggest that science learning takes place throughout thelifespan and across venues in non-school settings. Furthermore, the report highlighted the role of   [4]   after-school STEM education in promoting diversity and broadening participation, finding thatnon-school environments can have a significant impact on STEM learning outcomes inhistorically underrepresented groups, and that these environments may be uniquely positioned tomake STEM education accessible to all. Given the important role science centers and museumsplay in the education of both students and teachers, ASTC strongly supports the STEMeducation activities of NSF, NOAA, and NASA.National Science FoundationLocated within  NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and the Divisionof Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL), the Informal Science Educationprogram (which  NSF proposes to rename “Advancing Informal STEM Learning” ) supportsinnovation in anywhere, anytime, lifelong learning through investments in research,development, infrastructure, and capacity-building for STEM learning outside formal schoolsettings.For years, ISE funding has supported museum-community partnerships like “LEAP IntoScience,” a collaboration between Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute and the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation that identifies the role of crucial intermediaries in the science learningof children and points to the opportunities offered through a museum and library partnership toprovide engaging science resources in under-resourced communities where many adults lack science expertise and confidence. Through an emphasis on literacy and science, LEAP intoScience builds the capacity of after-school leaders, teens, and parents to be competent sciencelearners and facilitators and to connect science centers, parents, and libraries in support of thescience learning and achievement of children. Project features include a workshop model forfamilies with K-4 children, enrichment sessions for after-school students, family events at theFranklin Institute, professional development for library and after-school youth staff, and anational expansion conference. LEAP Into Science programming is now featured at 10expansion sites across the nation, including those in New York and Ohio.   Funding for NSF’s ISE program has hovered between $61 million and $65.8 million sinceFY 2003. For FY 2013, NSF is requesting $47.8 million, a $13.58 million reduction from theFY 2012 estimated level of $61.4 million. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Since 2005, NOAA’s Of  fice of Education has helped advance public environmental literacy andSTEM learning through the Environmental Literacy Grants (ELG) program, a competitive grantprogram that supports formal and informal/non-formal education projects implemented onregional to national scales. The ELG p rogram’s primary mission is to increase the understanding and use of environmental information to promote stewardship and increase informed decisionmaking by U.S. educators, students, and the public, which directly contributes to NO AA’s mission. The ELG program is the longest standing and most comprehensive national grantsprogram focused on environmental literacy, and through this focus, makes a distinctivecontribution to STEM education.
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