Yesterday at the 2015 White House Science Fair, President Obama announced over $240 million in pledges to inspire more students – especially those from underrepresented groups – to pursue education in science, technology, engineering, and math. Included in Obama’s announcement were:
$150 million philanthropic effort to empower a diverse cadre of promising early-career scientists to stay on track to become scientific leaders of tomorrow;
$90 million “Let Everyone Dream” campaign to expand STEM opportunities to under-represented youth;
$25 million Department of Education competition to create science and literacy themed media that inspires students to explore;
120 universities and colleges committing to train 20,000 engineers to tackle the “Grand Challenges” of 21st century; and,
CEO coalition Change the Equation committing expand effective STEM programs to an additional 1.5 million students this year.
This year’s White House Science Fair focused on diversity and included students from underrepresented backgrounds. The Fair also featured more women and girls in science than in previous years, with over 100 students from more than 30 states. Among the participants were a high school student from Arizona who created an algorithm to identify other medical applications for existing drugs, a student from Pennsylvania who designed an innovative carbon-dioxide powered battery, and a group of 6-year-old “Supergirls” who invented a batter-powered page turner to help people with disabilities read books.
Yesterday, President Obama unveiled legislation to protect students’ data privacy, adding to the discussion about how to successfully use educational technology without. The Student Digital Privacy Act will ensure that student data be used only for educational purposes by prohibiting companies from selling the data for purposes other than education. Seventy-five companies have already signed a pledge stating they will not misuse collected data.
The Student Digital Privacy Act is modeled after a California law – which was enacted last year and will take effect next January – that bars education technology companies from selling student data or using data to target students with advertising; companies are also banned from creating student profiles unless they further K-12 school purposes. “We’re saying that data collected on students in the classroom should only be used for educational purposes – to teach our children, not to market our children,” Obama said at the Federal Trade Commission office.
Last year, the Speak Up 2014 survey asked new questions about student data privacy; for example, we asked parents, “Has your child’s school or district provided you with information about how they are protecting the confidentiality of personal information that is being collected and stored digitally about your child?” Find out the results from this question and more when we release our Speak Up 2014 national data report at our congressional briefing in spring – you can view last year’s briefing and report here.