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6 Final Observations D uring the final session of the workshop, the participants engaged in a free-wheeling discussion of the important points they heard during the previous two days and steps to be taken next. Their individual observations and suggestions, which have been organized ac- cording to the four major sessions of the workshop, should not be taken as a consensus of the workshop participants as a whole or of the planning committee. REVITALIZING K-12 SCIENCE AND MATH EDUCATION • A coherent vision of the knowledge and skills that education should provide to students can drive improvement. • Future generations will learn in different ways than have people in the past, which will require new and innovative approaches to education. • Metrics for educational achievement among students and teachers can guide educational improvement. • The informal STEM learning that occurs in such places as museums can have a powerful effect on both knowledge and attitudes. • An emphasis on results rather than just funding can increase the interest of industry in contributing to K-12 education. • Teachers need to be more adequately represented in discussions of education, perhaps through electronic connections from the schools where they are working. 43
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44 RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM • Giving teachers continuing education credits for learning how to apply for and manage grants could enable them to foster partner- ships with the private sector. • Teachers also need to spend time to learn through collaborative lesson planning and professional development. • The valley of death plagues education as well, because few organi- zations exist that can develop promising innovations to the point that they can make a sustainable difference in the classroom. STRENGTHENING UNDERGRADUATE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING EDUCATION • Revisions of undergraduate curricula across departments could produce a better alignment of undergraduate STEM education and workforce needs. • Different states and regions have different needs that could be re- flected in undergraduate STEM education. • Two-year colleges are a critically important component of the higher education system in the United States. • Recognition and support of students who are skilled at bringing others together and fostering achievement could produce major educational dividends. • If more people could experience science as a means of exploring the unknown, they would better understand the process of bringing discoveries to the market to create jobs and wealth. BUILDING EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS • Precompetitive cooperation in building production capacity can prepare the infrastructure needed for future production. • Representatives from industry, K-12 education, and higher educa- tion rarely meet together, yet, as demonstrated by the conference, such meetings can be highly productive. • Cooperation among academia, governments, and industry must be based on trust and on an appreciation of the value that each partner brings to the table. • Partnerships succeed when all members of the partnership believe it to be to their advantage to make the collaboration work. • Sharing information can build the trust necessary for collabora- tions to succeed. • The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), an initiative by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies to help build the research bases of jurisdic-
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45 FINAL OBSERVATIONS tions that have historically received relatively low levels of federal research funding, provides a valuable model of collaboration to achieve shared goals. • Many barriers prevent faculty members from moving between academia and the private sector, despite the importance of such exchanges. • Cooperation among a group of states that share common interests can yield better outcomes than competition. FOSTERING REGIONAL TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP • Innovation applies not just to products but to new approaches to technology development and entrepreneurship, such as new financ- ing models. • Financing for early-stage prototypes can demonstrate the fea- sibility of a product so that private industry will invest in its commercialization. • A simple message is needed to convey the importance of science, innovation, and entrepreneurship to regional economies. • Legislators tend to respond more positively to suggested solutions to problems than they do to requests for funding. • Fellowship programs for scientists within state and local govern- ments can create a connection between science and policy that is often missing. Finally, Julie Underwood, the dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, observed that the conversation begun at the conference needs to be continuous, not a one-time event. “This conver- sation needs to go on and on.”
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