The first bill introduced by Michigan Congresswoman Haley Stevens is now her first piece of legislation passed by the House.
The Building Blocks of STEM Act, which passed the House Tuesday, directs the National Science Foundation to more equitably allocate funding for research with a focus on early childhood. The bill also directs the foundation to support research on the factors that discourage or encourage girls to engage in STEM activities.
U.S. Rep. Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, introduced the bill on March 11 alongside U.S. Rep. Jim Baird, R-IN, and U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen, D-NV, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV.
According to the bill, the majority of current research focuses on increasing STEM opportunities for middle school-aged children and older, not those at the elementary level. The bill goes on to state that “women remain widely underrepresented in the STEM workforce, and this gender disparity extends down through all levels of education.”
Stevens said the bill will help ensure that children are prepared to thrive in the 21st century economy and that women and girls are able to succeed in the STEM education fields.
“(This is done by) directing public resources to study opportunities for early childhood STEM education and strategies to encourage girls to engage in STEM and computer science,” said Stevens.
Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Oakland Schools, said she understands the importance of introducing STEM education to students at an early age.
“The earlier students have an opportunity to engage with STEM concepts, the more likely they are to develop an academic interest in these topics. I applaud Congresswoman Stevens for helping promote early childhood STEM education,” said Cook-Robinson.
Stevens serves as Chair of the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technologies.
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