The American Chemical Society (ACS) has been vocal in its support of the President's drive to both better educate undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and increase the number of students graduating with degrees in these fields.
And in Obama's new Engage to Excel report released by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, it is recommended that key actions to prepare and motivate students for good-paying jobs in STEM fields – jobs that are projected to grow significantly in the future.
ACS President Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, Ph.D., said:
"As president of the world's largest scientific society, I am pleased to see our nation's leaders embracing and supporting STEM education.
"Bi-partisan support for such a significant national need is critical. These recommendations capture the enthusiasm and vigor that science education must provide our up-and-coming generation of scientists. Hands-on learning, as this report emphasizes, is critical. Observing chemical reactions in a lab, analyzing the biology of a stream, or engineering a machine – this is what gets the heart pumping. That fascination with doing science grips the imagination and carries one beyond the classroom, well into a career."
The report outlines the needs to improve teaching methods that emphasize evidence-based learning, increase undergraduate research opportunities and draw more non-traditional students to STEM education and careers.
The report states that almost 70 percent of American college students are women and minorities, yet they comprise only 45 percent of undergraduates who pursue majors in STEM subjects.
This implies that there is a completely untapped pool of talent that is not being recognized. The report also suggests that students should also be able to choose majors that will help them secure employment.
"This is an important step. We must work to ensure that society understands just how central science, engineering, technology and math are to pursuing a wide spectrum of good-paying jobs. This is crucial in cultivating non-traditional students and guiding them to promising futures in scientific jobs that will help reinvigorate our nation's economy."
The report further calls for the formation of a Presidential Council to generate new ideas and keep a high-level focus on STEM education issues, strengthen mathematics at all levels and leverage new teaching methods to motivate learning.
ACS is a leader in STEM policy and serves as co-chair of the STEM Education Coalition and works as a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress.
The ACS is the world's largest scientific society and campaigns for providing access to chemistry-related research.