Tuesday, December 8, 2020  U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, alongside Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), announced their introduction of the Rural STEM Education Act.  

This bipartisan legislation would direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support rural STEM education and workforce development through grants for research on teaching STEM in rural schools, barriers rural students face in accessing STEM education, and solutions to improve the participation of rural preK-12 students in STEM. This bill would also direct the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish a prize competition to stimulate innovations in technologies to deploy broadband connectivity to unserved rural communities and establish a working group to set key research priorities for improving broadband access in rural communities.

“The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need to address the lack of resources available to our rural communities–especially when it comes to technology,” Rosen said.   “I’m proud to introduce this important piece of legislation that will support research and development activities to better understand the challenges rural communities are facing in providing quality STEM education programs. I will continue working on forward-thinking legislation to give our students the education and training they need to succeed in a 21st-century economy.”

According to a recent report from The Rural School and Community Trust, more than 9.3 million—or nearly one in five students in the U.S.—attend a rural school. Rural schools face unique barriers to providing STEMeducation, including a shortage of science and math teachers, high teacher turnover, lack of reliable broadband, and difficulty accessing online and computer-based technology

Craig Rose, Director of the Nevada STEM Networks explained for students to succeed in the 21st-century economy, students need to be equipped with strong science and engineering skills. 

 “We applaud Senator Rosen’s commitment to ensuring that our rural communities receive the skillsets to set them up for success by introducing the bipartisan Rural STEM Education Act to provide teachers with more resources and training in STEM, engaging students through hands-on education, and increasing access to broadband. Through these efforts, we can ensure the state of Nevada and our nation is adequately preparing our future STEM workforce.” Rose said.