A couple of newsworthy items from the STEM world bubbled up this week:

On Monday, President Obama announced the creation of a STEM AmeriCorpsAmeriCorps, a program stated under the Clinton administration, places volunteers in community service positions. Often compared to a domestic Peace Corps, these stints of community service are in high needs locales.

This new multi-year initiative will focus on placing STEM volunteers in non-profits to help drive interest in the education of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. According to Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (the Federal organization that oversees AmeriCorps), “By strengthening STEM education for students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, AmeriCorps will spark greater interest in math and science and build ladders of opportunity these students might otherwise never have.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 8.39.13 AMSpeaking of creating opportunities, a Washington state science teacher has been named National Educator of the Year for doing just that. Jeff Charbonneau, whose accomplishments were celebrated in a White House Rose Garden event on Tuesday, is a physics, chemistry, engineering and architecture teacher at Zillah High School. In his remarks, President Obama cited Charbonneau’s record of creating a program where nearly every student graduates high school with some college credit. According to the President, Charbonneau “wanted to convince kids that something like quantum mechanics wasn’t something to run away from, but something to dive into. And he said, ‘It’s my job to convince them that they are smart enough, that they can do anything.’”

Our hats are off to you, Mr. Charbonneau. Congratulations!

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