Competitions to Support STEM

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Science  01 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6085, pp. 1079
DOI: 10.1126/science.1224571

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To prosper in the global economy, each nation must focus on growing its next generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. Success will require exciting many more young students about science and mathematics. When appropriately organized and directed, science and engineering competitions can provide a lifelong appreciation of, interest in, and enjoyment of science and engineering activities in much the same way that involvement in sports competitions provides a lifetime enjoyment of sporting events. In February, the second-ever White House Science Fair celebrated the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competitions from across the United States. And this year will see monetary and scholarship prizes awarded to students by longstanding prestigious competitions that include the Intel Science Talent Search; the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology; the Google Science Fair; the FIRST Robotics Competition; and the Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision competition, among others. But these competitions require financial support in much the same way that extracurricular sports and Olympic teams do. More private industries, large and small, are needed to support STEM education by sponsoring such competitions.