Dr. Kathleen B. Bergin MSP, National Science Foundation
Dr. Daniel P. Maki MSP, National Science Foundation
Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr. Director, National Science Foundation

DAN MAKI: The MSP program had its fifth birthday October one of this fall. In a sense, it's now moving a little bit from being a very youthful program to what I like to call a "vigorous young adult program." Keep in mind that these are NSF years, not people years. So five qualifies you as vigorous young adult.

The goal of this meeting is to both look back and to look ahead. Looking back, I think all of you have done a lot of very good work and we want to highlight it. We want to pin down what we've got strong evidence for. And we want to use it to plan the future. We do have a solicitation out and we're looking at a lot of new awards this year.

So this seems like a good time for both of these steps. And I think the goal here is a traditional one. If you have a good idea and if you do something really important, there're three steps in convincing people. The first one is you convince yourself. You get the evidence and you're happy with that. The second step is you convince your colleagues. You convince others, let's say in the MSP program, that you really have something good. And the final step is, of course, to convince the rest of the world that you have something good and people should recognize what's been done, and perhaps also do similar things.

This isn't unusual. In all of science there's similar steps. For example, I'm in mathematics. If I claim to have proven the Riemann Hypothesis and I write in and ask for my million dollars, they tend to say, "Well, there's a few more steps before we send you the check. One is tell people how you did it. The other is write it down very, very carefully. Have some lectures. "And then finally, when you have written it down very, very carefully, we will send it off to a whole bunch of reviewers. And we'll, after a certain number of years, maybe send you the million dollars."

So my point of view is what we're doing in the MSP program is well worth more than a million dollars. We're doing something that can impact K-12 for generations to come. So we should be at least as careful in everything we do. And that's really the goal of this conference, to look at what we've done and what evidence we have and how we can strengthen that evidence and to move forward.

Okay, just brief introductions. My guess is that most of you have already noticed I am not Diane Spresser. I'm Dan Maki. I've been at NSF about 18 months. And about eight of those months, connected to the MSP program. Prior to that, I was at Indiana University in the math department for four decades or so, including being the PI on a MSP project. So the bad news is that Diane, after threatening for a while, actually carried out her threat to retire from NSF. She, of course, was a principal leader of the MSP team, which is a relatively small team. And she certainly played an enormous role in shepherding the program through what I'm calling its youthful years. In many ways she made an extraordinary effort. So the bad news is Diane did retire. She still does a few things for NSF, but she's no longer active in the MSP program. The good news is that the rest of the team is in tact. In fact, we've added a person or two, so I just want them to stand. Because although many of you know everyone on the MSP team, in fact, there are always some new ones that come to this conference. And I think it's worth having the team stand up.

So as I introduce them, would they please stand and you can all give a look. You'll know who to rush to after to get that much needed supplement ...(inaudible) an extra year. Okay, Joyce Evans and Joan Prival-- I don't know where everybody is and with these lights-- There's Joan in the back. Elizabeth VanderPutten. Elizabeth, back here. Philis Hauser. Philis. And our new member Ginger Rowell, who is a math staff person just new to NSF and new to the MSP program. >And now I've omitted two who are key players both for MSP, but also even more than that, key players for this conference. They put in all the long, hard hours to help plan this and work with a review panel that worked hard with them in planning the conference. And the first one is Jim Hamos. Jim? Oh, Jim is looking for our keynote speaker. Always a good idea. And finally, Kathleen Bergin. Kathleen has put in an enormous number of hours. And she just wants to say a couple of words about the structure of the meeting.

KATHLEEN BERGIN: Is this mike on? Those of you that have been to meetings before know that I don't do podiums. It's a ratio and proportion problem. Dan, going through things, and there's so many new people to recognize, I also want to recognize Darnita Kizer of the National Science Foundation MSP staff, who keeps us all on track.

On behalf of Jim Hamos and me and the Learning Network Conference Planning Committee, I want to add my welcome to Dan's, to this sixth Learning Network Conference, where we have not only all of the NSF MSPs represented, but we also have colleagues from the Department of Education, and the Department of Education's MSP programs, as we all learn and grow together.

On the inside cover of your program, you will see a list of names. This is the planning committee. We want to thank them and acknowledge them for their thoughtful contributions and their many long hours of work. And while I'm not going to call each by name, I am going to ask them to rise at this time so that you may recognize them for their outstanding work.

Now, speaking of outstanding work, we and the Planning Committee want to thank you for the terrific response we had to the call for abstracts. The presentations that you're going to see over the next two days represent only two-thirds of the submissions that we received. And this really speaks well of the scholarship of this community. It is a wonderful problem to have too many proposals to put into a two-day conference. So we commend you for that.

The Planning Committee paid attention to your feedback from previous conferences and has built in a lot of time for discussion, networking, reflection, and planning. As you can see, the breakout sessions are 105 minutes long. That's so that you have time to hear the presentations, or if you're the presenter, to do the presentation. And then for you to participate fully by asking questions of clarification, for serving as critical friends to push your colleagues to think more deeply about their work, and how they're going to convey it vis a vis what Dan was saying earlier about the three levels of those you want to reach with your work.

We want you to have time to discuss among yourselves the implications for your own work and to share with the room how what you've just heard and what you're doing contributes to the whole. And we want you to have time for reflection and planning. And, therefore, we have built into the program team reflection time for you to come back together towards the end of this day to sit with the members of your team that are here and talk about what you heard in the different sessions, and think about next steps, in terms of your own work. We've also built in project to project networking time. One of the powerful things when you come to a meeting like this is connecting with others. So we hope you'll take advantage of that at breaks, at refreshment times this evening, at the reception.

I got ahead of myself. Ultimately, we want to convey to you the excitement with which we're entering into this meeting and thank you in advance for the scholarly work that you're doing and will be doing. We hope you'll take full advantage of the time that we've built in throughout the two days to challenge yourself and to learn from others. Because this is truly a learning community. It's the MSP learning community, and we congratulate you and thank you very much for your participation throughout the next two days and beyond in your own work. Thank you.

DAN MAKI: Thank you, Kathleen. I'll turn now to an official comment from the National Science Foundation. And let me introduce our speaker by saying my own philosophy here. And I really believe that leadership matters. If you're in a department somewhere, your chair matters, your dean matters, your provost. And although you may not actually know it, your president matters. If you're in a school system, your principal matters, your superintendent and your school board matter.

And the same is true at the National Science Foundation. We have divisions here, division of math. We have directorates. The Assistant Directorate, head of the directorate, matters. And at the top we have a directorate. And the directorate matters. And I'm very pleased that we have our Director of NSF here today.

Arden Bement became the Director in November of 2004 after serving as Acting Director for a few months. He brought to NSF a vast amount of experience in business, education and government. And in a sense he had just the right background to run a very complicated research and education organization as the National Science Foundation. He joined NSF after serving as Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which itself has a large research staff. And prior to his work at NIS, he was a distinguished professor of nuclear engineering at Purdue University. Served under many commissions. He was Director of the Midwest Superconductivity Consortium. He's been a consultant to Argon National Laboratory and other labs. Prior to joining Purdue, he was active in both industry and government, including, for example, being a Vice President of PRW, Senior Research Associate at General Electric, Director of Material Science at DARPA. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. He's a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He's a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Just one final note, after 40 years at Indiana University, I found myself joining an organization headed by somebody who had spent many years at archrival Purdue. However, I then discovered I didn't need to worry because he was a fellow PhD from the University of Michigan. So, with no reservations, Dr. Arden Bement.

ARDEN BEMENT: Well, I'm very pleased to be here this morning for the MSP Learning Network Conference.

First of all, I'd like to thank Kathleen Bergin, James Hamos, and others from the NSF staff for managing the MSP program and organizing this meeting. Many thanks also go to you, our PIs, and to all STEM faculty teachers and partners involved in this program.

As you all know, the National Science Foundation is a federal agency that is charged with advancing science and engineering research across all disciplines. Our second mandate is to ensure that US students are adequately prepared to operate in an increasingly complex technology intensive society. Research and learning in education is critical to improving the end product of fundamental skill knowledge and applicability in the diverse jobs and professions.

Although some always think of research being connected to physics, chemistry and biology, we must understand that the same intensity of research goes on in fields of how people learn and how to teach so that they do learn. Education research is a most critical discipline. And funding for education research is a rare resource. For the amount of funding we can invest in the Math and Science Partnership Program, you are setting down a huge footprint. The MSP is one of the Foundation's model programs of researchers and educators partnering to advance our nation's academic achievement in math and science. I am pleased to say the program is pioneering new ways to bring inspiration, support, and resources to educators and students in order to reach this goal.

We have some good news to report about the program's impact. For starters, since the program began, scientists in Math and Science Partnership school districts have made gains in math and science proficiency at every level in K to 12. From 2000 to 2005, high school students have made marked progress in math proficiency. Seventeen point percent-- 17.1% jump. And during the same time span, elementary school students made significant improvements in science of 5.3% increase on average. In addition, there have been a number of effective ideas and innovations that have emerged from MSP programs. For instance, the Georgia Partnership for Reforming Science and Mathematics, or PRISM, is running a Math Plus Science Equals Success campaign across the entire State of Georgia. The campaign is helping to raise public awareness of how vital a challenging curriculum in science and mathematics is to the long term success of students.

And as many of you already know, abstracts of every MSP program presented at this conference are posted on the MSP website. I cannot stress enough what an effective tool this is for educators and policymakers for sharing and learning. They can even expand on the innovative projects that are taking place in school districts across the nation. In other words, MSP is doing good things.

On that note, I want to thank all of you for undertaking this important work. You're engaging in scholarship with scholarly research and development efforts that potentially could transform the way our students learn and are taught science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The necessity to raise the level of math and science proficiency in this country is no secret to any of us. And you are at the forefront and in the trenches to make that happen.

We know that the overarching global trend indicates the economies are increasingly dependent on innovations that come from science and technology. We are seeing discoveries and innovations emerge from every corner of the globe. In this fast moving, knowledge-centered environment, the nations that moved to the head of the pack are those who invest heavily in research education and the development of a rigorously skilled science and technology workforce. Collectively, India, China, South Korea, and Japan have more than doubled the number of students receiving bachelor's degrees in the natural sciences since 1975, and quadrupled the number of engineering degrees. Since the late 1980s, the European Union has produced more science and engineering PhDs than the US. In this highly competitive environment, the US faces a daunting competitive task. Our science and technology workforce will be tested and tried every step of the way.

The President underscored the importance of our task when he launched the American Competitiveness Initiative. And Congress is supporting such efforts through the America Competes Act, which, among other things, expands NSF education programs, and pays special attention to the preparation and career long training of the nation's teachers. At NSF we have found that our best mechanism for achieving these essential goals is through partnerships such as MSP that bridge all sectors of the economy and society. This process maximizes our gain.

In addition, we must take a hard look at the way we introduce science and math to students in the early grades, always cognizant that we are preparing them for a very different future. As a case in point, the National Science Board recently released its Science and Engineering Educators 2008 Report. The data still show that US grade school students lag behind other developed countries in science and math. This continuing problem prompted the initiation of an MSP program in the first place. The new numbers indicate that we still have a long way to go. Without continuing progress, our nation's ability to be innovative and competitive will be compromised. It is critical to pay concerted attention at the beginning of the education pipeline. If science and math learning is compromised in the early grades, it is difficult, often impossible, for students to catch up in these areas later on.

In an increasingly science and technology based world, the fundamental training in science and math is important in almost any profession or job to which a student might aspire. We continue to respond to this wakeup call and MSP is part of the solution. But the problem is bigger than small pieces. By holding this meeting to address such questions as what do we know and what do we still need to know, we hope to develop more insight about how to put all the pieces together. I strongly encourage you to use this meeting as a stepping stone to publish in peer reviewed journals so that the broader STEM disciplinary and education communities can learn from and build upon the work that you have already begun. And by sharing your knowledge and ideas, it may become more apparent exactly which pieces are missing and are needed.

I commend each of you for your contributions of distinguished scholarship and outstanding leadership in the learning and teaching of math and science. You are contributing to the national goal of raising the math and science literacy of all K to 12 students. You are helping to build a national workforce that is robust and capable of meeting the challenges in the science and technology driven world. You are the agents of change and the pilgrims on a new frontier. I wish you good luck. Much depends on your difficult journey. Thank you.