New Bill Introduced to Improve STEM Education and Workforce Development in Rural Areas

Nov 22, 2019


Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced a bill this month that would improve access to STEM education in rural areas. H.R. 4979, the Rural STEM Education Act, includes a number of provisions that would improve STEM education in rural areas by giving teachers more resources, engaging students though hands-on education, and increasing access to broadband. The bill would also engage the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to better serve rural communities.
The bill directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide grants on a merit-reviewed, competitive basis to institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations for research and development to advance innovative approaches to support and sustain high-quality STEM teaching in rural schools. The bill would also establish a pilot program of regional cohorts in rural areas that will provide peer support, mentoring, and hands-on research experiences for rural STEM educators of students in grades Pre–K through 12, in order to build an ecosystem of cooperation among educators, researchers, academia, and local industry.
The Rural STEM Education Act was introduced with 12 bipartisan cosponsors and has already garnered support form 7 more. It has undergone mark-up by the House Science Committee and was ordered to be reported. ASME will continue to monitor this legislation.

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