Rep. Lipinski's Proposal to Boost Informal STEM Education Becomes Law

Congressman Dan Lipinski’s (IL-3) proposal directing the National Science Foundation to award grants for innovative, informal science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education projects and programs has been signed into law.

“This new law will help museums and science centers across the country introduce a variety of engaging STEM programs that will support and build upon what our young people are learning in school,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “These programs will reach the more than 13 million students that visit museums each year, many of whom may be inspired to pursue science careers as a result.”

Activities supported by the grants may encompass a single STEM discipline, multiple disciplines, or integrative initiatives.

“I proposed this grant program because I know how much of an influence informal STEM education had on me when I was growing up,” stated Lipinski.  “Visits to the Museum of Science and Industry, Brookfield Zoo, and other local favorites helped inspire me to pursue and achieve two engineering degrees.” 

“We are thankful to have a champion like Congressman Lipinski who recognizes the importance of informal STEM education,” said David Mosena, president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry.  “The learning that happens outside the classroom, in places like museums, is critical and directly supports the learning that happens in school.  This law ensures that the National Science Foundation will continue to fund science education in all environments.”

As a former teacher, Congressman Lipinski has pushed for improvements in STEM education throughout his career.  He serves on the Science, Space, and Technology committee, and is the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Research and Technology.  He is also co-chair of the Congressional STEM Ed Caucus.  

When he was chairman of the Research Subcommittee, he wrote the bill reauthorizing the National Science Foundation, and he was a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee that completed work on the America COMPETES Act, a response to a National Academies report warning that America must take action if it wants to maintain its place as the world’s scientific and technological leader.