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OSTP's New STEM Guy Is Out Of Synch With Upper Management

By Keith Cowing
May 21, 2010
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Science Education May Not Be Rocket Science, Wieman Tells Senate, Science
“Appearing today before the Senate commerce committee as the nominee for associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Wieman was asked if NASA should play a bigger role in the federal effort to raise student achievement and produce a better-trained workforce. He politely but firmly suggested that NASA stick to what it does best–sending astronauts and scientific instruments into the heavens. “I think the answer to that is unclear,” Wieman told Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), who was filling in for the panel’s chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). “NASA has a unique role in inspiring people. I wanted to be an astronaut as a child. And there’s something really dramatic about rockets blasting into outer space. But at the same time NASA does not bring much expertise to exactly what’s critical to achieving learning in science and engineering.”
Keith’s note: Gee, this guy seems to be a bit at odds with his boss – and his boss’s boss. I wonder if Wieman knows about this whole “Summer of Innovation” thing?
Remarks by the President on Space Exploration in the 21st Century
“In the years that have followed, the space race inspired a generation of scientists and innovators, including, I’m sure, many of you. It’s contributed to immeasurable technological advances that have improved our health and well-being, from satellite navigation to water purification, from aerospace manufacturing to medical imaging. Although, I have to say, during a meeting right before I came out on stage somebody said, you know, it’s more than just Tang — and I had to point out I actually really like Tang. (Laughter.) I thought that was very cool.”
Launching a New Era in Space Exploration, OSTP
“Last, and in many ways most importantly, President Obama wants NASA to inspire more young people to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. NASA’s Summer of Innovation, for example, will work with thousands of middle school teachers and students to engage students in stimulating, evidence-based math and science-based education programs.”
Holdren Makes Impact (Craters) on National Lab Day, OSTP
“Following the Q&A, Dr. Holdren joined the students in literally getting their hands dirty in an educational activity set up by NASA. Students created a simulated asteroid surface using a mixture of soil, flour, and other ingredients. Then, using golf balls and a protractor, they observed how changes in the angle of a projectile’s impact affected the area and volume of the resulting craters.”

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.