Text: S.3732 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (08/05/2010)


111th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 3732


To establish within the Department of Education the Innovation Inspiration school grant program, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

August 5, 2010

Mrs. Shaheen (for herself, Mr. Reid, Mr. Dorgan, Mr. Kaufman, Mr. Begich, Mr. Bingaman, and Mr. Kerry) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions


A BILL

To establish within the Department of Education the Innovation Inspiration school grant program, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Findings.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) According to the National Science Board’s 2008 Science and Engineering Indicators, only 5 percent of American college graduates major in engineering, compared with 13 percent of European students and 20 percent of students in Asia.

(2) Although United States fourth graders score well against international competition, United States students fall near the bottom or dead last by 12th grade in mathematics and science, respectively.

(3) Admissions requirements for undergraduate engineering schools include a solid background in mathematics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus) and science (biology, chemistry, and physics), in addition to courses in English, social studies, and humanities.

(4) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall engineering employment is expected to grow by 11 percent over the 2008 through 2018 decade, and, as a group, engineers earn some of the highest average starting salaries among individuals holding bachelor's degrees.

(5) According to the Department of Labor, engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail oriented. Engineers should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are becoming increasingly important as engineers interact more frequently with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.

(6) Exposure to project- and problem-based learning, in a competitive team environment, gives 9th through 12th graders the skills the students need to be successful in engineering programs of study and engineering careers.

(7) According to Brandeis University’s Center for Youth and Communities, participants in FIRST Robotics (a nonprofit organization that inspires young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging the young people in mentor-based programs)—

(A) are more likely to attend college full-time than nonparticipants (88 percent versus 53 percent);

(B) are nearly 2 times as likely to major in a science or engineering field; and

(C) are more than 3 times as likely to have majored specifically in engineering.

SEC. 2. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) ELIGIBLE ENTITY.—The term “eligible entity” means—

(A) a local educational agency; or

(B) if a local educational agency chooses not to apply for a grant under this Act, a secondary school served by the nonapplying local educational agency.

(2) LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY.—The term “local educational agency” has the meaning given the term in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801).

(3) POVERTY LINE.—The term “poverty line” has the meaning given the term in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

(4) SECONDARY SCHOOL.—The term “secondary school” has the meaning given the term in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

(5) SECRETARY.—The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Education.

(6) STEM.—The term “STEM” means science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

SEC. 3. Innovative inspiration school grant program.

(a) Goals of program.—The goals of the Innovation Inspiration grant program are—

(1) to provide opportunities for eligible entities to support non-traditional STEM education teaching methods;

(2) to support the participation of students in nonprofit robotics or STEM competitions;

(3) to foster innovation and broaden interest in and access to careers in the STEM fields by investing in programs supported by teachers and professional mentors who receive hands-on training and ongoing communications that strengthen the interactions of the teachers and mentors with—

(A) students on competitive robotics or STEM teams; and

(B) other students in the STEM classrooms and communities of the teachers and mentors; and

(4) to encourage the collaboration among students, engineers, and professional mentors to design, build, program, and compete in challenges with sophisticated robots.

(b) Program authorized.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary is authorized to award grants, on a competitive basis, to eligible entities to enable the eligible entities—

(A) to promote STEM in secondary schools;

(B) to support the participation of secondary school students in robotics or STEM competitions; and

(C) to broaden secondary school students' access to careers in STEM.

(2) DURATION.—The Secretary shall award each grant under this Act for a period of not more than 5 years.

(3) AMOUNTS.—The Secretary shall award a grant under this Act in an amount that is sufficient to carry out the goals of this Act.

(c) Application.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Each eligible entity desiring a grant under this Act shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may reasonably require.

(2) CONTENTS.—The application shall, at a minimum, include a description of how the eligible entity will—

(A) carry out each of the elements of a robotics or STEM competition described in subparagraphs (B) through (F) of subsection (d)(1);

(B) establish robotics or STEM competition programs to inspire students in grades 9 through 12 to become innovators in STEM;

(C) identify and recruit mentors for the programs described in subparagraph (B) and the participants in the programs;

(D) support teachers who lead the programs and participants in the programs through stipends or other incentives;

(E) recruit young women and individuals from populations traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields to participate in the programs;

(F) identify public and private partners that can support the programs with cash or in-kind contributions;

(G) plan for sustaining the programs financially beyond the grant period; and

(H) evaluate the grant project and the results of the grant project among participating students, including—

(i) comparing students who participate in the grant project to similar students who do not so participate; and

(ii) evaluating—

(I) secondary school graduation rates;

(II) college-going rates;

(III) the number of students taking advanced STEM related secondary school classes; and

(IV) the ability of students participating in the grant project to partner with professional mentors.

(3) PREFERENCE.—In developing the criteria for grant awards under this Act, the Secretary shall give preference to an application that addresses the needs of—

(A) a rural or urban school;

(B) a low-performing school or school district; or

(C) a local educational agency or school that serves—

(i) not fewer than 10,000 children from families with incomes below the poverty line; or

(ii) a student population not less than 20 percent of whom are from families with incomes below the poverty line.

(d) Uses of funds.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Each eligible entity that receives a grant under this Act may use the grant funds for the following:

(A) STEM EDUCATION AND CAREER ACTIVITIES.—Promotion of STEM education and career activities.

(B) PURCHASE OF PARTS.—The purchase of parts required to support participation in team robotics or STEM competitions.

(C) TEACHER INCENTIVES AND STIPENDS.—Incentives and stipends for teachers involved in robotics or STEM competitions.

(D) SUPPORT AND EXPENSES.—Support and expenses for participation in regional and national robotics or STEM competitions.

(E) ADDITIONAL MATERIALS AND SUPPORT.—Additional materials and support, such as equipment, facility use, and other expenses, directly associated with robotics or STEM competitions.

(F) EVALUATION.—Carrying out the evaluation described in subsection (c)(2)(H).

(2) NONPROFIT COMPETITIONS.—Grant funds made available under this Act for robotics or STEM competitions shall only be used to support participation in nonprofit robotics or STEM competitions.

(3) ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS.—Each eligible entity that receives a grant under this Act may use not more than 2 percent of the grant funds for administrative costs related to the administration of the project supported by the grant.

(e) Matching requirement.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Subject to paragraph (2) each eligible entity that receives a grant under this Act shall secure, toward the cost of the activities assisted under the grant, from non-Federal sources, an amount equal to 50 percent of the grant. The non-Federal contribution may be provided in cash or in kind.

(2) WAIVER.—The Secretary may waive all or part of the matching requirement described in paragraph (1) for an eligible entity if the Secretary determines that applying the matching requirement would result in a serious financial hardship or a financial inability to carry out the goals of the grant project.

(f) Supplement, not supplant.—Grant funds provided to an eligible entity under this Act shall be used to supplement, and not supplant, funds that would otherwise be used for activities authorized under this Act.

(g) Secretary's activities.—

(1) COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH PROGRAM.—From amounts appropriated under subsection (h) for a fiscal year, the Secretary shall establish a communications and outreach program to publicize—

(A) non-traditional teaching methods applicable to STEM; and

(B) the availability and application procedure for the grant program established by this Act.

(2) EVALUATION PROGRAM.—The Secretary shall establish an evaluation program to determine the efficacy of the grant program established by this Act, which shall include assessing the impact, of student participation in the grant project assisted under this Act, on future course-taking and postsecondary study, by comparing students so participating to similar students who do not so participate.

(h) Authorization of appropriations.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out this Act such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2011 through 2015.

(2) LIMITATIONS.—Of the amounts appropriated under paragraph (1) for a fiscal year—

(A) not more than 1 percent shall be used for the communications and outreach program under subsection (g)(1); and

(B) not more than 1 percent shall be used for the evaluation program under subsection (g)(2).