Last month, President Obama coined the phrase Sputnik moment in regard to the race for new innovations in science and technology. Last night, he raised this issue again in his State of the Union address. The President asserted that in order to support innovation, advance alternate energies, compete in the new global economy, and create jobs, the country needs investments in research and education equivalent to those undertaken during the height of the Space Race.
The key to some of our nation’s most challenging problems is education–math and science education. At IAN we’ve always believed that education for grade school students, policy makers, and community members is the route to solving not just studying environmental problems. That is why we are committed making research accessible to teachers and students through new media, report cards, and even board games. One of our latest endeavors, the UMCES Channel on SchoolTube is another way to educate students, demystify the scientific process, and inspire the future generation of scientists; future scientists who will create innovative solutions to our most pressing problems.
In its first month, the UMCES Channel has delivered more than a dozen videos watched by over 825 viewers. And this is just the beginning. We will work with a variety of students in graduate school, in high school, and in grade school to produce more videos. Students across the country will be able to see people from a diversity of backgrounds working to solve a variety of issues based on sound research. Motivating students to ask questions, solve problems, and communicate new ideas is the best investment we can make in education, and new media, such as video-sharing sites is a powerful way to achieve this aim. By watching young people who look like them participating in science, students can gain the confidence and knowledge they need to pursue innovative ideas of their own.