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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about nanotechnology, kids in science, RV fillup costs, and Hillary Clinton in the media.

May 23, 2008



Nanotechnology bill takes steps to ensure safety

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The May 20 editorial, "Safeguards on nanotech," mischaracterized the legislation (H.R. 5940) approved May 7 by the House Science and Technology Committee.

This bill amends certain aspects of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), the federal multiagency research and development program authorized in 2003. It does not actually authorize funding for any part of the NNI and certainly does not reduce the level of funding authorized for environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research.

On the contrary, the bill assigns responsibility to a senior White House official to ensure that a detailed implementation plan for EHS research is developed and executed.

The bill will strengthen and provide transparency to the federal research effort to understand the potential risks of nanotechnology.

Rep. Bart Gordon
Washington

Chairman, House Committee on Science and Technology

How to improve science's kid-appeal

In response to the May 16 article, "Can competitions raise 'cool' factor of math, science?": As this story observed, many students are still not drawn to the existing math and science options.

There are more than 6 million children in after-school programs in the United States (and 15 million more would participate if a program were available, according to the Afterschool Alliance). Only a tiny fraction of this population sees math and science as something they could be doing outside of the classroom. Meanwhile, evidence suggests that students have to be interested in science and math (not just good at it) if they are going to pursue it, and that interest is often linked to knowing someone like them who does science as a career.

There are many exemplary programs connecting young people to science and technology. I encourage your readers to support their local after-school programs and science centers in bringing fun science not just to competition winners but to all the students who we will need as future science and engineering workers.

Jason Freeman
Berkeley, Calif.

Director, Coalition for Science After School

In response to the May 16 article about using science and math competitions to lure more students into these fields: A name change would go a long way. "Science Fair" is probably not going to pique the average teenager's interest, but "Science Smackdown" just might.

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