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AAAS’s Project 2061 has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop new tools for finding out how students build their knowledge of energy concepts over time and for helping teachers diagnose their students’ learning difficulties.

Acknowledging the importance of energy education for today’s students, the department’s Institute of Education Sciences gave high marks to the new study, which is one of only 26 funded this year through the competitive education research grants program.

The United States needs to take steps quickly to remain competitive in the global economy, Charles M. Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering, warned in a lecture at the annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy.“A national nightmare could be unfolding,” Vest said during the annual William D. Carey Lecture on 5 May. “It doesn’t have to happen. It is the 11th hour, however, but this nightmare still need not materialize. Indeed, I actually don’t believe it will materialize. But we must get started now on a strategic agenda for the long haul.”