Bart, from Huntsville, AL, posted a comment to this article where I asked what you think the federal government should do to prepare K-12 students for the science and technology driven 21st Century? (One of seven questions recently presented to Congress by a consortium of science organizations.)      
He suggested the use of space exploration as a means to spark excitement in science teachers and the students they teach. He even included some examples.
Sonia, of Philadelphia, PA, wrote in with this:

“While our government is busy slashing [art, music, and horticulture] programs, our youth (aka future) suffer indoor boredom, while sitting unnaturally still and passively ‘learning’ abstract concepts that seem to have no relevance to their lives. And it shows in both their test scores and Ritalin prescriptions. So my suggestion is this: there is so much to be learned through the arts. Why not focus on music, art and gardening as seedling programs for our youth? Anyone who sticks with them long enough will gain so much with regards to math and science…”

As I mentioned here on Wednesday, decision-makers are listening to you.
Here’s a response to Sonia’s question from Susan Mason at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF is an independent federal agency with an annual budget of about $6.06 billion–the source of funding for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.

“What [many people] may not know is how much creative work is being funded through NSF. For example, our Informal Science Education program funds documentary films, interactive science museum exhibits and Citizen Science projects. Some of the recent awards made under this program are accessible here.
We fund projects to engage students in gardening/ecology, such as this one. 
There are projects to better understand the connection between art/creativity and science such as this project.
And we are funding projects that link music to science, such as the one described here
Through NSF, taxpayers are funding scientific research at institutions all over the country. They are also funding science, technology, engineering, and math education, with all its connections to creativity and artistic expression. I hope this helps.”

Thank you, Susan!
So, why don’t many people know this? Or, more importantly, how do how do we get these programs into our schools? One school at a time, I suspect. Forward this to your kids’ science and math teachers. Let them know these initiatives exist.
And keep those comments rollin’ in!

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