Created by on 09/17/2010


On September 15, 2010, the National Science Board (NSB) released a set of recommendations aimed at fostering the development of the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals, entrepreneurs, and inventors. Preparing the Next Generation of Stem Innovators: Identifying and Developing Our Nation’s Human Capital draws on findings from a two-year examination of the issue conducted by NSB in conjunction with the National Science Foundation Directorate for Education and Human Resources and the U.S. Department of Education.

In describing the context for the report, NSB member and education scholar Camilla P. Benbow suggested that as other nations develop their own STEM infrastructure, the U.S. will not continue to be able to rely on foreign-born talent to sustain its STEM industry. The nation will have to expand its domestic talent pool. Yet, according to the report, “the abilities of far too many of America’s young men and women go unrecognized and underdeveloped.” To address this concern, NSB issued a set of recommendations detailing how the U.S. might foster the identification and development of STEM innovators, defined as “individuals who have developed the expertise to become leading STEM professionals and perhaps the creators of significant breakthroughs or advances in scientific and technological understanding.”

The Board’s three keystone recommendations are as follows:

1. Provide opportunities for excellence by offering coordinated, proactive, sustained, formal and informal interventions to develop students’ potential and enable them to learn at a pace and depth commensurate with their talents and interests;
2. Cast a wide net to identify all types of talents in students from all demographic groups. The report notes that current assessments fail to identify students with the highest potential or those with certain types of abilities (e.g., spatial ability);
3. Foster a supportive ecosystem that nurtures and celebrates excellence and innovative thinking, and create a culture that expects excellence, encourages innovation, and rewards success.

For each of the recommendations, the report contains multiple, specific policy actions for NSF, the federal government, and/or the nation, as well as a research agenda to inform-policy making in crucial areas.