Issue: STEM Education
Millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) each year by visiting museums, science centers, public gardens, zoos, and aquariums. The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports these efforts through numerous grants and directorates, including the Directorate for Education and Human Resources’ Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program. AISL supports research, development, infrastructure, and capacity building for STEM learning outside formal school settings. Programs at other science-related agencies—including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH)—are also critical to helping museums attract, inspire, and educate the current and future STEM workforce. The FY 2017 appropriations legislation provided $62.5 million for AISL and continued funding for the NOAA and NIH programs in which museums participate, but did not explicitly include funding for NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums, and NASA Visitor Centers (CP4SMPVC).
- We urge Congress to fully restore funding for the AISL program to $65 million—the FY 2010 funding level—and to continue to support informal STEM programs at NASA, NOAA, and NIH.