[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 173 (Friday, September 4, 2020)]
[Pages 55323-55326]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-19681]



Notice of Request for Information on STEM Education

AGENCY: National Science Foundation.

ACTION: Notice of request for information.


SUMMARY: On behalf of the National Science and Technology Council's 
(NSTC's) Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) and in coordination with 
the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the 
National Science Foundation (NSF) requests input related to the 
implementation of the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan, Charting a 
Course For Success: America's Strategy for STEM Education.

DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before 
11:59 p.m. ET, October 19, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Comments submitted in response to this notice may be 
submitted online to: [email protected]. Email submissions should be 
machine-readable [PDF, Word] and not copy-protected. Submissions in the 
subject line of the email message should include ``Individual/
Organization Name: STEM RFI Response'' (e.g., Johnson High School: STEM 
RFI Response).
    Instructions: Response to this RFI is voluntary. Each individual or 
organization is requested to submit only one response. Submission must 
not exceed 6 pages in 12 point or larger font, with a page number 
provided on each page. Responses should include the name of the 
person(s) or organization(s) filing the comment. Comments containing 
references, studies, research, and other empirical data that are not 
widely published should include copies or electronic links of the 
referenced materials.
    Please indicate on the first page of the response which 
question(s), identified by category and question number, you are 
responding to. Please only respond to the questions that are relevant 
to you and/or your stakeholders and provide a brief description of the 
perspective from which you are sharing (e.g., I am a teacher, parent, 
or represent a non-profit STEM organization). If responding to more 
than one question, please identify the category and question number(s) 
(e.g., ``Federal STEM Education Online Resource, questions 1-2'', 
``Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM, question 4'', ``Strategic 
Partnerships, questions 9-11'', etc.) with specific response(s) 
directly below it.
    No proprietary information, copyrighted information, or personally 
identifiable information should be submitted in response to this RFI.
    In accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation 15.201(e), ``RFIs 
may be used when the Government does not presently intend to award a 
contract, but wants to obtain price, delivery, other market 
information, or capabilities for planning purposes. Responses to these 
notices are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form 
a binding contract.'' Additionally, those submitting responses are 
solely responsible for all expenses associated with response 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information, please 
direct your questions to Cindy Hasselbring,

[[Page 55324]]

OSTP, [email protected], 202-456-4245.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This request is in alignment with 42 U.S.C. 
6621(b)(5) of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, Public 
Law 111-358, which calls for CoSTEM to develop, implement, and update 
every 5 years a STEM Education Strategic Plan. This information request 
also addresses current and future changes in education systems that 
have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Information gathered from 
this request may be used to guide future Federal STEM education 
resource development.
    Categories in this Request for Information focus on the following 
elements of the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan:
     Future opportunities in STEM education;
     Develop STEM education digital resources;
     Increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM;
     Engage students where disciplines converge;
     Develop and enrich strategic partnerships;
     Build computational literacy; and
     Community use and implementation of the Federal STEM 
Education Strategic Plan.
    In December 2018, The White House released the Federal STEM 
Education Strategic Plan, Charting a Course for Success: America's 
Strategy for STEM Education to provide a vision for a future where all 
Americans have access to high-quality STEM education. This strategy was 
intended to serve as a ``North Star'' for the broader STEM community to 
help achieve its goals, pathways, and objectives.
    The goals of the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan:
     Build Strong Foundations for STEM Literacy;
     Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM; and
     Prepare the STEM Workforce for the Future.
    The Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan is built on four pathways 
representing a cross-cutting set of approaches, each with a specific 
set of objectives for achieving these goals:
     Develop and Enrich Strategic Partnerships;
     Engage Students where Disciplines Converge;
     Build Computational Literacy; and
     Operate with Transparency and Accountability.
    These four pathways have the potential to catalyze and empower 
students, educators, employers, and communities to benefit learners at 
all levels and to harmonize the realization of a shared vision for 
American leadership in STEM literacy, innovation, and employment.

Questions for Feedback

    Provided below are categories from which the Government is seeking 
your input. Please respond to those questions within your 
(organization's) area of expertise or need. In your response, please 
identify the category(s) and question number(s) to which you are 

Future Opportunities in STEM Education

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, education systems (including 
preK-12, postsecondary, adult, and informal) were required to make a 
sudden shift to remote or asynchronous teaching and learning, and this 
may continue in the near term. Please provide insights to the questions 
below based on current experiences. For each response below please 
indicate the education system (preK-12, postsecondary, adult, and 
informal) that covers your response and whether you are addressing 
school systems, schools, teachers/faculty/instructors, learners, other, 
or more than one category.
    1. What COVID-19 related digital barriers (e.g., access to 
broadband or computers, digital learning platforms, online educational 
resources) have you found most prominent, impactful, or difficult to 
overcome? Are these barriers resolved fully, or partially? If resolved, 
how was that achieved? If not resolved, what barriers remain to 
resolving the challenge?
    2. What new or existing educational programs, opportunities, or 
concepts would enhance remote (both synchronous and asynchronous) 
education? Please indicate which education system you are addressing 
and if the interventions are targeted toward schools, teachers/faculty/
instructors (e.g., virtual field experiences for preservice teachers, 
flexibility in scheduling classes, virtual internships, micro 
credentialing), learners (e.g., pre-recorded sessions focused on 
enabling consistent instruction with individualized delivery options), 
or other areas.
    3. What positive experiences using remote learning technologies 
have you had in recent months and how can they be enhanced or 
institutionalized to present new opportunities in STEM education? How 
has [or could] the Federal Government helped support these innovative 
    4. What are the greatest challenges that have emerged related to 
inequities in STEM with the shift to online education and training? 
What solutions did you identify, and what gaps remain in your ability 
to deliver/receive equitable STEM education services? How did you 
measure your solution's success?
    5. What areas of professional learning would be most beneficial to 
educators providing remote instruction (e.g., utilizing formative 
assessment, small group collaboration, facilitating meaningful 
discourse or inquiry, creating rigorous alternative assessments for 
those without access to technology/broadband)?
    6. What data/information is the most important to collect about 
STEM education during the disruption of educational systems because of 
COVID-19? What data are you collecting currently related to the shift 
in education because of COVID-19?
    7. What experience does your school system have with interoperable 
learning records or precision learning systems? If used, please share 
any barriers, solutions, or other information relevant to their 
effectiveness particularly related to digital barriers and the impact 
or effectiveness related to distance education. How were these concepts 
used or modified in response to COVID?
    8. What actions did your STEM Learning Ecosystem take to support 
learning in response to COVID-19? Were these actions helpful? What 
barriers prevented you from taking additional actions that may have 
been useful?

Develop STEM Education Digital Resources

    The Federal Government is seeking information on web-based STEM 
educational resources and opportunities for preK-12 teachers, post-
secondary faculty, educational institutions, informal educators, 
parents, and students.
    9. What type of web-based resources and opportunities would you 
hope to find on a STEM education website? Are there existing resource 
websites that could serve as a model for a Federal website? If so, 
please provide a link for reference. What aspects of this website 
should be utilized in a Federal website if such a site were developed?
    10. Please describe your primary audience (e.g., I primarily work 
with 7th grade science students in a formal classroom setting) and how 
the STEM education resources you identified above would help you serve 
your audience.

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    11. How would you like to see resources categorized (e.g., 
subjects, topics, grade bands, Federal agency, other)? Do you have an 
example of another website that is categorized in this way? If so, 
please provide a link for reference.

Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM

    STEM education practices and policies at all levels should embody 
the values of inclusion and equity. All Americans deserve access to 
high-quality STEM education, regardless of geography, race, gender, 
ethnicity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, parental education 
attainment, disability status, learning challenges, and other social 
identities. For each response below, please indicate the education 
system or career experience for which you are responding.
    12. What are the methods utilized by your organization to increase 
the recruitment, retention, inclusion, achievement, or advancement of 
individuals from groups that are underrepresented and underserved in 
STEM? For context, please briefly provide information on what groups 
your organization targets through these interventions? How are these 
interventions evaluated for success?

Engage Students Where Disciplines Converge

    Real world STEM problems require students to ask and answer 
questions across traditional disciplinary boundaries. This type of 
transdisciplinary learning, or convergence, is encouraged to produce 
STEM-literate talent capable of integrating knowledge to produce 
innovative solutions. Toward this objective, the Federal STEM Education 
Strategic Plan aims to (1) enable STEM educators through upskilling, 
resourcing, and providing a forum to share best practices; (2) support 
the dissemination of transdisciplinary education best practices and 
programs, and (3) expand support for STEM learners to study 
transdisciplinary problems.
    13. How do you or your organization use transdisciplinary learning, 
integrated STEM, convergence, or engineering design (e.g., a community 
or global design/innovation challenge) in your experience? What topical 
areas in your curriculum do you teach to provide transdisciplinary 
learning opportunities? What approaches do you use to teach 
transdisciplinary learning? Why do you use this approach (e.g., more 
engaging for students, school/administration promotes transdisciplinary 
learning) and how does it benefit your students' learning?
    14. How has your ability to teach transdisciplinary concepts to 
your students changed in recent months because of the shift to remote 
teaching and learning? What teaching modalities have you employed to 
deliver transdisciplinary instruction virtually?
    15. What training have you/your organization received in any of 
these approaches for teaching STEM education: transdisciplinary, 
integrated, convergence, or engineering design, etc.? Please describe 
the training, if any (including university coursework or professional 
development), that helped you/your organization prepare to teach STEM 
using an integrated or transdisciplinary approach. Why was that 
specific training helpful, and if not, what could be done differently?
    16. If you are an educator or school system and interested in using 
a more integrated or transdisciplinary approach to teaching STEM, what 
professional development would help you teach in this way? What 
specific delivery mechanism work well for you (e.g., online course, 
webinar, in-person workshop)? What technology tools would be helpful 
for you when using a transdisciplinary approach?
    17. If you are a student, what specific delivery mechanism works 
well for you (e.g., online course, webinar, in-person workshop)? What 
technology tools would be helpful for you to enhance your learning and 
engagement to deliver transdisciplinary education to your students?

Develop and Enrich Strategic Partnerships

    The Federal Government seeks perspectives to building STEM learning 
ecosystems through cross-sector strategic partnerships that promote 
work-based learning programs aimed at reskilling and upskilling. For 
the following questions, a STEM education partnership is a group of 
multi-sector partners united by a common vision of creating accessible, 
inclusive STEM learning opportunities that increase STEM literacy, 
expose learners to multiple STEM career pathways, and prepare Americans 
for jobs of the future.
    18. What factors drive successful work-based learning programs? 
What elements encourage or discourage students, schools, or industries 
from participating? How can Federal agencies expand partnerships with 
the private and non-profit sectors and educational institutions to 
train the workforce needed for jobs of the future through work-based 
learning opportunities? If your organization provides work-based 
learning opportunities, how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your 
program? How has your organization made adjustments in response?
    19. If you are currently engaged in a STEM learning ecosystem, what 
are the characteristics of success? What is the role of the private 
sector in a successful STEM learning ecosystem? What is your STEM 
ecosystem doing to support STEM education since the COVID-19 pandemic 

Build Computational Literacy

    The Federal Government seeks information on building computational 
literacy in STEM education. In the Federal Strategy for STEM Education, 
computational literacy includes digital literacy, cybersafety, 
cyberethics, cybersecurity, data science, data security, intellectual 
property (IP), computational thinking, artificial intelligence, quantum 
information science, and digital platforms for teaching and learning. 
Considering this definition, please answer the questions below:
    20. What are the benefits when integrating computational literacy 
within a STEM curriculum and/or with related standards, guidance, or 
resources? Please describe any challenges when integrating aspects of 
computational literacy into your instructional delivery.
    21. What components, key concepts, or topics should be included to 
integrate computational literacy into STEM education at all levels? 
Please explain what they are and why they merit special attention.
    22. What are existing programs, content, curriculum, or education 
and training opportunities that inform successful examples of building 
computational literacy in STEM education? Identify both Federal and 
non-federally sponsored research and programs.
    23. What technologies and resources do you currently use (e.g., 
apps, learning management systems, collaborative tools, STEM websites, 
websites linked to curriculum)? Are there others you would like to use, 
that you do not have access to both for in-person and remote teaching 
and learning?

Community Use and Implementation of the Federal Stem Education 
Strategic Plan

    The Federal Government seeks information on community utilization 
of the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan.
    24. Please describe how your organization has used the Federal STEM

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Education Strategic Plan. How does your work align with the goals and 
pathways identified in the Strategy (provided above)? What changes have 
you made to your program or activity in response to the Federal 
    Thank you for taking the time to respond to this Request for 
Information. We appreciate your input.

    Dated: August 31, 2020.
Suzanne H. Plimpton,
Reports Clearance Officer, National Science Foundation.
[FR Doc. 2020-19681 Filed 9-3-20; 8:45 am]