DoD Joins Forces to Invest in STEM Education

From cell phones to household computers, STEM keeps the world connected. The Department of Defense (DoD) is making an investment to ensure military children have access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education with the expansion of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) College Readiness Program.

A group of National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) College Readiness Program students pose for a photo outside of the vice presidential residence in Washington, DC with NASA astronaut Kay Hire on April 27, 2015. NASA provided a replica of the  Mars Exploration Rover (left) and a spacesuit (far right). (Photo: Yolanda R. Arrington/Defense Media Activity/Released)

A group of National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) College Readiness Program students pose for a photo outside of the vice presidential residence in Washington, DC with NASA astronaut Kay Hire on April 27, 2015. NASA provided a replica of the Mars Exploration Rover (left) and a spacesuit (far right). (Photo: Yolanda R. Arrington/Defense Media Activity/Released)

Teachers and military students gathered at the vice president’s home in Washington, DC, Monday, for the launch of the expanded program in partnership with the Joining Forces program started by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

Matthew Randazzo, interim CEO of NMSI, announced the program has experienced an 82 percent increase in qualifying advanced placement math and science scores in just the first year of the College Readiness Program for military-connected children. Recognizing its importance, the DoD is now making sure that even more military kids will have access to the program.

“Thanks to new funding commitments made by the Department of Defense and a coalition of match partners, NMSI’s College Readiness Program for military families will now expand to serve 85 percent of a network of 200 military-connected schools in 35 states across the United States,” Randazzo said.

Vice President Joe Biden looks on as a NMSI student welcomes the audience during the announcement of the program's expansion at an April 27, 2015 event at the vice presidential residence in Washington, DC. (Photo: Yolanda R. Arrington/Defense Media Activity/Released)

Vice President Joe Biden looks on as a NMSI student welcomes the audience during the announcement of the program’s expansion at an April 27, 2015 event at the vice presidential residence in Washington, DC. (Photo: Yolanda R. Arrington/Defense Media Activity/Released)

Vice President Joe Biden thanked NMSI supporters for the work they’re doing to expand the College Readiness Program to prevent the children of active duty military from falling behind in their education.

“On average, military kids move every two years and attend between six and nine schools before they finish high school, and it takes a toll. It is also the thing that equips them when they succeed to be the most versatile and competent people in our society,” Biden added.

The increased NMSI program will broaden access to rigorous advanced placement courses in math, science and English, which NASA astronauts say is vital to their industry.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly speaks to the NMSI students about the importance of STEM education in a pre-taped video from the International Space Station on April 27, 2015. (Photo: screenshot)

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly speaks to the NMSI students about the importance of STEM education in a pre-taped video from the International Space Station on April 27, 2015. (Photo: screenshot)

“Fulfilling my dream of becoming a Navy pilot and ultimately an astronaut required a tremendous amount of training in science, engineering and math. And I wouldn’t be here today … without all the great teachers who inspired me,” NASA astronaut Scott Kelly said during pre-taped comments he made from the International Space Station.

On the ground, NASA astronaut Kay Hire mingled with the students and encouraged them to continue their STEM education.

NASA astronaut Kay Hire poses for a photo alongside an inflatable replica of the Mars Exploration Rover during the announcement of the expansion of the National Math and Science Initiative's (NMSI) College Readiness Program for military students in Washington, DC on April 27, 2015. (Photo: Yolanda R. Arrington/Defense Media Activity/Released)

NASA astronaut Kay Hire poses for a photo alongside an inflatable replica of the Mars Exploration Rover during the announcement of the expansion of the National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) College Readiness Program for military students in Washington, DC on April 27, 2015. (Photo: Yolanda R. Arrington/Defense Media Activity/Released)

“The students of today really need to make sure they have a solid background in science and technology,” Hire said, “most especially if they have any aspirations of working for the military whether in uniform or even as a civilian contributing to our overall mission because so much of what we do now is very technical. We need a workforce who are very technically savvy and cannot only maintain and operate all this technology but create even newer technology that’s going to give us greater capabilities.”

Taylor Smith, NMSI student, daughter of Army veterans, and high school senior from Havre de Grace, Maryland poses for photo following the National Math and Science Initiative's (NMSI) College Readiness Program expansion announcement in Washington, DC on April 27, 2015. (Photo: Yolanda R. Arrington/Defense Media Activity/Released)

Taylor Smith, NMSI student, daughter of Army veterans, and high school senior from Havre de Grace, Maryland poses for photo following the National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) College Readiness Program expansion announcement in Washington, DC on April 27, 2015. (Photo: Yolanda R. Arrington/Defense Media Activity/Released)

One student putting STEM in action is Taylor Smith. A Maryland high school senior and daughter of Army veterans, Smith plans to pursue a career in computer engineering to make new cell phones.

“Science and technology are important to me because it’s basically the future of everything. Everything starts with technology. The NMSI program is honestly one of the best programs out there. It’s advanced. It’s great for everyone,” Smith said.

Thanks the expanded program, an additional 17,000 military-connected students will have access to STEM education, bringing the program’s total impact to 50,000 military-connected students throughout the nation.

Yolanda R. Arrington is the content manager for Armed with Science. She is a journalist and social media-ista with a flair for moving pictures and writing.

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