June 28, 2021

Rural STEM Education Research Act Passes in House

Rural STEM Education Research Act Passes in House

The Rural STEM Education Research Act, introduced to the House by Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK) and cosponsored by Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), has passed in the House and will now move to the Senate. H.R.210 directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research in STEM in rural schools across the country by awarding grants to institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations for:

  • Research and development to advance innovative approaches to support and sustain high-quality STEM teaching in rural schools
  • Research and development of programming to identify the barriers rural students face in accessing high-quality STEM education
  • Development of innovative solutions to improve the participation and advancement of rural students in grades Pre-K through 12 in STEM studies
  • Research on online STEM education courses for rural communities

The Rural STEM Education Act supports research and development activities to improve understanding of the challenges rural communities are facing in providing and sustaining quality STEM education programs and takes steps to address them. The bill also helps develop best practices for accessing and using computer-based and online STEM education courses, while helping schools combine online STEM education with hands-on training and apprenticeships to give students theoretical and practical understanding of science and math skills.

“The Rural STEM Education Research Act would help give teachers more STEM resources, engage students in hands-on education within their communities, and address key obstacles to rural STEM education, particularly the lack of broadband access,” said Lucas.

This bill also takes steps to address reduced connectivity and the lack of broadband access. It directs the National Institutes of Standards and Technology to establish a prize competition to stimulate innovations in technologies to deploy broadband connectivity to underserved rural communities. It also establishes a working group to set key research priorities for improving broadband access so rural communities can enjoy the same connectedness as the rest of the country.

The bipartisan bill was supported by the STEM Education Coalition, Battelle, STEMx, the National Science Teaching Association, the After School Alliance, the Girl Scouts of the USA, Microsoft, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), and the National FFA Organization.

The Rural STEM Education Research Act is now in the hands of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.