By Michael Baadke
The United States Postal Service is issuing a set of four nondenominated (50¢) forever stamps April 6 to commemorate the subject of STEM Education. Each stamp characterizes one of the four educational disciplines represented by the STEM acronym: science, technology, engineering and math.
The 11 a.m. first-day ceremony will take place in association with the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Hall E of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW, in Washington, D.C.
The convention center is located between 7th and 9th Streets, and N Street and Mount Vernon Place, across from the Carnegie Library.
To check in, ceremony attendees will use the main entrance on Mount Vernon Place. Advance online registration is required to attend the event.
Postal Service Vice President of Marketing Steven W. Monteith will dedicate the stamps, which are being issued in a pane of 20.
David Plunkert of Baltimore, Md., designed and illustrated the stamps, working with USPS art director Antonio Alcala.
Each stamp shows a young person’s face in profile, the name of the education field represented on the individual stamp, and design elements associated with that branch of learning.
“Designed to pique the curiosity of the viewer,” the Postal Service said, “each stamp features a collage of faces, symbols, drawings, and numbers that represent the complexity and interconnectedness of the STEM disciplines.”
In the lower left corner of each stamp is one large letter from the STEM acronym next to three stars on a blue field.
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The Science stamp shows the letter S, plus part of a molecule model, a small part of the periodic table of elements identifying transition metals, a sine wave and other symbols.
The Technology stamp, with the letter T, features circuitry, binary code and more.
Along with the letter E and other design elements, the Engineering stamp shows what appears to be a schematic design of the command and service modules of the Apollo spacecraft.
The Math stamp with the letter M depicts numbers, letters, symbols and equations, including an infinity symbol (or lemniscate), a dodecahedron, the pi symbol and an equals sign.
In 2010, the American Society for Biochemistry and molecular Biology stated: “There is growing concern that American education in science, technology, engineering and math — known as STEM — is coming up short. Worried about the long-term health of the American economy, industry leaders recently testified before a congressional committee that American students are not prepared adequately for careers in STEM disciplines.”
Addressing those concerns has been a priority at the highest levels of government.
The U.S. Department of Education advanced efforts to improve and expand STEM teaching and support active learning during the administration of President Barack Obama.
“[T]here are huge challenges that we have to solve in how we have clean energy, and how do we clean up our environment, and how do we solve crippling diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s,” Obama said.
“And when we give students the inspiration not just that math and science are inherently interesting, and technology and engineering are inherently interesting, but there’s actual problems to solve, it turns out that young people, they rise to the challenge.”
On Sept. 26, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum “expanding access to high-quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Computer Science education to K-12 students.”
Trump said, “[W]e will help give our American children a pathway to success in the workforce of tomorrow.”
In its announcement of the new stamps, the Postal Service said, “These stamps celebrate the role of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in keeping our nation a global leader in innovation and providing new opportunities for all Americans to learn and explore the world.”
The Postal Service has prepared a partial press sheet with die cuts that includes 120 stamps (six unsevered panes), selling for the face value of $60.
The stamps will sell at post offices in panes of 20, and the panes may not be split for individual stamp sales, according to the Postal Service.