The National Science Foundation would be required to oversee a new program to support the improvement of high school science laboratories, under bills being considered by the House and the Senate.
Companion bills sponsored by Rep. Ruben E. Hinojosa, D-Texas, and Sen. Robert D. Menendez, D-N.J., seek to create a $5 million-a-year competitive-grant program to finance partnerships between “high need” school districts and higher education institutions or nonprofit groups to improve the quality of science labs.
Grant seekers could propose projects that would upgrade lab facilities; increase training in lab safety; better integrate lab lessons with other academic science content; or use labs to encourage students to pursue science study in college. The bills would establish the grant program as part of the law that authorizes the NSF. That law that is set to expire Sept. 30.
A hearing on the House bill was held March 8 by a subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee. David M. Stonner, the NSF’s director of congressional affairs, said the independent federal agency, based in Arlington, Va., has paid for numerous projects to improve labs over the years. The House bill would set more specific requirements for NSF supporting those activities, though money would have to be found to support the new lab-grant program, he noted.
A version of this article appeared in the March 14, 2007 edition of Education Week