Eight Awesome STEM Programs You Didn’t Know About

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Energy blog.

November 8 is National STEM Day
Michael Stewart, U.S. Department of Energy

You hopefully have some of our STEM programs on your radar, like our Solar DecathlonNational Science Bowl®, and Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships and Community College Internships. But, did you know there’s hundreds more programs out of our national laboratories and program offices? November 8 is National STEM Day, and we’re celebrating by taking a look at some of these amazing STEM programs we offer through DOE and the Labs.

1) A Fellowship on Breakthrough Clean Energy Solutions

EarthShots Hydrogen

The Energy Earthshots Initiative, launched at the U.S. Department of Energy this year, is aimed at accelerating breakthroughs of clean energy solutions within the decade. The first Earthshot announced is the Hydrogen Shot, an all-out effort to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade – and to train the diverse workforce needed to make this a reality. Enter the Hydrogen Shot Fellowship, an opening for 1-2 current Bachelors’, Masters’, and Doctoral students to come work with us on clean hydrogen production and infrastructure research. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Geared towards: current Bachelors’, Masters’, and Doctoral students 

2) A Way to Dive Into Algae Education

 The Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC)

When you think of surfboards, biofuels, or flip flops, does algae ever come to mind? Did you know that DOE has free resources to expand your knowledge about algae beyond the sea, to discover how algae is used in sustainable everyday products (like the examples above!). The Algae Technology Educational Consortium (ATEC) is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office and the Algae Foundation that shares education and learning opportunities for students and professionals, including the Algae Academy for grades K-12, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) program for professionals, biotechnology curriculums, and more.

Geared towards: K-12, professionals, and teachers

3) A Program to Expand Gender Diversity in Science Careers

A widely-popular program for high school students in the Chicagoland area is the Science Careers in Search of Women at Argonne. The annual program brings inspiration, knowledge, and tips for exploring STEM careers directly to high school students with the aim of advocating for greater gender diversity in the STEM workforce. At the annual event, Argonne National Laboratory’s female scientists and engineers mentor students on their career goals, provide networking opportunities, and share Argonne’s work to advance science, including global challenges such as combating the climate crisis.

Geared towards: High School students identifying as female 

4) A Program to Jump-Start Your Inspiration to See Yourself in Nuclear

Navigating nuclear logo

DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy partners with the American Nuclear Society and Discovery Education to provide the highest standard in nuclear science education with Navigating Nuclear: Energizing Our World™. This dynamic, standards-aligned program invites students to explore the many applications of nuclear science and its impact on energy, healthcare, food, and the environment through an interactive suite of free resources. Explore STEM project starters, digital lesson plans, and exciting Virtual Field Trips where you can learn about different careers in nuclear science.

Geared towards: K-12 students and teachers 

5) A Workforce & K-12 Education Program That’ll Blow You Away

The Wind for Schools program is spurring student interest in wind energy and helping train the workforce of tomorrow.

Talk about winds of change! The Wind for Schools program is spurring student interest in wind energy and helping train the workforce of tomorrow. The program provides K–12 and college students hands-on education and experience through the installation and operation of a wind turbine at primary schools. With more than 145 systems installed at host schools across 12 states, Wind for Schools has already introduced thousands of students to wind energy concepts.

Geared towards: current undergraduate students for Wind Application Centers; K–12 schools to host affiliate projects 

6) A Summer Internship to Tackle the Climate Crisis

Want to tackle climate change? The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) Program is currently accepting applications for their Summer 2022 program. This research program is under the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) and catered to undergraduate and graduate students in STEM majors seeking to gain experience in energy research. Participants will complete a cutting-edge research project at one of DOE’s national laboratories or at DOE headquarters under the mentorship of our scientists and engineers. Participants will also receive a stipend, travel and housing assistance. And the best part is that you will contribute to the FECM mission of minimizing the environmental impacts of fossil fuels while working towards net-zero emissions!  Application deadline is January 10, 2022.

Geared towards: Undergraduate and graduate STEM students 

7) A YouTube Collection You’ll Want to Browse for Days!

A screen grab of the JLab Frostbite Theatre collection.

Frostbite Theater is a collection of science-themed videos from DOE Jefferson Lab’s Science Education group. Geared primarily towards middle school students, each Frostbite Theater video takes a quick, focused look at one topic. Whether it’s learning how to draw an atom or doing a virtual experiment with electromagnets, Frostbite Theater has you covered.

Geared towards: Middle School students 

8) A Way to Spend a Day as a River

participants in BNL's program

Have you ever wondered what happens in the day of a life of a river? A collaboration between Brookhaven National Laboratory, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission, explores this very question through their “A Day in the Life of a River” program.

Each year, over 1,500 students and teachers, representing dozens of schools, take a day to go into the field to collect biodiversity and water chemistry data from several Long Island rivers and estuaries. Students and teachers explore careers in environmental science gathering data and samples side-by-side with the many local, state, and federal agency scientists that volunteer their time. Students and teachers learn proper data collection techniques and how to use scientific equipment in the field. The students, teachers, and community stakeholders experience what place-based environmental stewardship is all about.

Geared towards: Elementary, Middle School, and High School students and teachers, Community stakeholders and users of the resources  

And wait, there’s so many more! Visit STEM Rising, our one-stop-shop for STEM activities at the Department of Energy, to browse through our activities by audience (K-12, college & continued learning, teachers, and workforce). Don’t miss any of the action by signing up for our monthly STEM Rising newsletter.

STEM Rising K-12 banner
AnneMarie Horowitz has been with the Energy Department since 2009, and is the Director of STEM Rising, a priority Departmental initiative to highlight the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs and resources of the agency.

From Sec. Cardona: A Letter to Parents & Students

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

Click here for a copy of this letter in Spanish

To our Nation’s Parents and Students:  

I write first, as your new Secretary of Education, to acknowledge the extraordinarily challenging year you’ve endured. Between the health crisis, economic hardship, staunch national division, and the struggle to make progress in learning while apart from teachers and peers, the impact of the pandemic is still very real and will be felt for years to come.   

And yet, you’ve kept going. As a parent of two who experienced these same concerns and uncertainties, and an educator who has been moved by the resilience of the students and families I’ve met, let me say: you deserve recognition and you have my deepest thanks.   

Brighter days are ahead. We are making progress. More schools across the country are reopening for in-person learning, and they’re doing so with the help of clear, science-based guidance from experts in the field. The Department has released part one of a COVID-19 Handbook to help schools implement guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we’re working on the second volume. Together, these guides will provide more evidence-based strategies for schools to minimize disruptions caused by school closures, especially for our most vulnerable students and communities and address the impact of COVID-19 on educational opportunity across communities. 

The most pressing challenges we face aren’t new. Since I began teaching more than 20 years ago, opportunity gaps remain. There are still unacceptable disparities in high school graduation rates and higher education is still out of reach for too many students, including learners of color, those from low-income families, and those, as I was, who would be the first in their families to attend.   

These inequities aren’t just holding our children back from achieving their full potential – they’re holding our nation back, too. We all benefit when our children have high-quality opportunities to develop their skills and build their knowledge – and then, share their gifts and talents with the world.  

Our first priority is to return students to the classroom for in-person learning, but we know there’s more work to be done once we’ve achieved that goal. We’re also working toward building better career pathways, making college more affordable, ensuring all students have access to high quality schools with a balance of quality coursework that include the arts and sciences, supporting teacher quality and improving teacher diversity, ensure teachers receive the support and respect they need and deserve, expanding access to high-quality preschool, and supporting high-quality career and technical education.   

President Biden’s plans are bold, but they match the urgency that the challenges before us demand. And as Secretary, I will always keep students and their success at the heart of the Department’s work.  

We know that, given the right support, resources and opportunities, our potential is boundless. Despite our worries as parents, this year we’ve seen new proofs of our children’s ingenuity, optimism, and ability to overcome the toughest of circumstances.   

If we all commit to approaching the remainder of this school year – and the years to come – with this same mindset of possibility, dedication, and innovation, we can and will make good on our promise to America’s students. As an educator and as a parent, I commit to safeguarding and advancing the dreams of your children, as I commit to the dreams of my own son and daughter.  

Our nation’s students deserve – and they will get – our very best efforts, our most collaborative thinking, and our deepest belief in their abilities. Together, we can build a future of promise and opportunity that makes no exceptions.  


Secretary Miguel Cardona