WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, applauded passage of her bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act by the U.S. House of Representatives. Rosen, a former computer programmer and the only computer programmer currently serving in the Senate, introduced this legislation as a member of the House last year. This year, Rosen introduced her bipartisan bill alongside Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Deb Fischer (R-NE). The bill would create and expand upon STEM education initiatives at the National Science Foundation (NSF) for young children, including new research grants to increase the participation of girls in computer science. Rosen’s bill passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation earlier this year.
In the House, Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-MI-11) and Congressman Jim Baird (R-IN-4) – respectively, the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology – introduced companion legislation to Rosen’s bipartisan bill. The Stevens-Baird companion to the Rosen bill passed the House today by voice vote.
“I’m thrilled to see my colleagues in the House take a much-needed step to close the gender gap in science and tech, which will ensure our country continues to lead in STEM,” said Senator Rosen. “This bill will help our children receive the quality education and training that they need to succeed, building a stronger workforce that will prepare us for a 21st century economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate so that we can pass this forward-thinking legislation and sign it into law.”
BACKGROUND: Studies have found that children who engage in scientific activities from an early age develop positive attitudes toward science and are more likely to pursue STEM expertise and careers later on. Last Congress, Rosen introduced similar legislation to focus National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM education programming on young children and to award grants to encourage young girls to pursue computer science learning. The bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act (H.R. 3397), introduced in the 115th Congress by then-Representative Jacky Rosen and Representative Steve Knight (R-CA), would direct NSF to more equitably distribute funding for early childhood education in its Discovery Research PreK-12 program, which seeks to enhance the learning and teaching of STEM and address the immediate challenges that are facing PreK-12 STEM education. Currently, the Discovery Research PreK-12 program focuses the majority of its research on students in middle school and older. This year’s Senate bill and its House companion also include Rosen’s bipartisan Code Like a Girl Act (H.R. 3316) from the 115th Congress, which would direct NSF to award research grants to increase understanding of the factors that contribute to the participation of young girls in STEM activities and to develop interventions in pre-K and elementary school classrooms to increase the participation of young girls in computer science. Last Congress, Rosen’s combined package of STEM education bills unanimously passed the House but failed to receive a vote in the Senate.
The bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act is endorsed by Girl Scouts of the USA, Save the Children Action Network, American Association of University Women (AAUW), National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), National Organization for Women, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS), Girls, Inc., BSA The Software Alliance, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Code.org, BlackRidge Technology, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Girls Who Code, Third Way, Center for Excellence in Education (CEE), CompTIA, TechNet, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Common Sense Kids Action, and ISACA.