The Senate on Wednesday evening passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) commending the entertainment industry for promoting interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) issues among America's youth.
"The entertainment industry of the United States has an extraordinary ability to reach young people," said Kaufman, the only serving Senator who has worked as an engineer. "I am so pleased that many in this industry are using this opportunity to positively impact their audiences by teaching them the wonders of STEM. I commend their efforts thus far and encourage them to continue to work to communicate the importance of STEM to their audiences. I truly believe support for STEM -- in government, entertainment, and business − is essential for our economic growth and recovery. It is the future of our workforce. It is the key to our future prosperity."
The Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) recently began a new national initiative to promote the importance of STEM. Ready on the S.E.T. and Action! is a program that will help the entertainment and media fields to collaborate with science, engineering, and technology experts in order to disseminate and accurately portray professional opportunities in STEM fields, especially among youth.
More specifically, the project will develop resource information for writers, producers, directors, broadcast and print journalists to improve (within all types of national and local media) the portrayal of engineers and scientists in entertainment media space.
Senator Kaufman's full remarks, entered into the Congressional Record:
Mr. President, I rise today to support the efforts of the entertainment industries to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. As the only serving Senator who has worked as an engineer, I am proud to sponsor a resolution acknowledging the essential role STEM professionals play and the important work that they do.
I would also like to thank Senators Feinstein and Boxer for joining me in introducing this resolution.
Mr. President, I truly believe that, whether one considers our dependence on fossil fuels, efforts to promote global health, new challenges in homeland security, or reinvesting in America's infrastructure, the next generation of STEM-educated graduates will be the problem solvers for the most important issues of our time.
In fact, through 2018, STEM occupations are projected to provide 2.8 million job openings. What is more, over 90 percent of STEM occupations require at least some postsecondary education.
Yet, students across the country, particularly women and underrepresented minorities, need a better understanding of, and appreciation for, STEM careers. They also need better access to quality STEM opportunities and activities.
Fortunately, the entertainment industry has recognized this need.
The Entertainment Industries Council − a non-profit organization created in 1983 by leaders in the industry to raise awareness about major health and social issues − recently developed a similar initiative to elevate the importance of STEM in national entertainment and news productions. Ready on the S.E.T. and Action! will connect STEM experts, companies, and organizations with the entertainment industry in order to disseminate accurate information about STEM professionals and careers.
Moreover, for 14 years, the Entertainment Industries Council has produced the PRISM awards to honor productions and performances that accurately portray prevention, treatment, and recovery of substance abuse and mental illness. This year, they will produce the first-ever S.E.T. Awards Show to honor accurate and impactful portrayals of STEM in movies, television series, news programs, and print and online journalism.
Specific programming has started to take off. PBS has a new show called SciGirls to support girls' interests in STEM. Each half-hour episode follows a different group of middle school girls who put science and engineering to work in their everyday lives. The young girls are aided in their quests by female mentors and a companion Web site is incorporated into the TV series.
Just a few weeks ago, the Science Channel introduced Head Rush. This one-hour, commercial-free programming is targeted at middle school-age students and explores STEM through hands-on experiments, video shorts, viewer questions and answers, games, and visits from special guests. Hosted by Kari Byron of Discovery's Mythbusters, there are three segments per show which each address a specific theme of the hour.
Mr. President, the entertainment industry of the United States has an extraordinary ability to reach young people. Whether it is movies, television, radio, or video games, the entertainment industries reach many of our nation's youth, multiple times a day. I am so pleased that many in this industry are using this opportunity to positively impact their audiences by teaching them the wonders of STEM. I commend their efforts thus far and encourage them to continue to work to communicate the importance of STEM to their audiences. I truly believe support for STEM -- in government, entertainment, and business − is essential for our economic growth and recovery. It is the future of our workforce. It is the key to our future prosperity.