Congressman to Receive Bennett Award at Capitol Hill Ceremony

Representative Rush HoltCongressman Rush D. Holt will be presented with the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science at the 2014 Capitol Hill Poster Session. The ceremony, held in connection with the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement’s 2014 Washington Symposium, will take place on Tuesday, September 30, in the Cannon Caucus Room at 12:30 p.m. Congressmen Holt will make brief remarks.

In announcing the award, David Burns, executive director of the National Center, released the following statement:

When we created the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science we did so to recognize some of the remarkable members of our SENCER community. We also planned for the possibility that occasionally we would have the honor to recognize someone whose influence was so significant—in scope, depth, and persistence—that it makes what the work our community does possible, but beyond that, makes our whole nation smarter, stronger, and, simply put, better. Rush Holt is such a person. It gives us great pleasure and is a high honor for us to be able to recognize Congressman Holt with the Bennett Award.

Congressman Holt, who is retiring this year, represents the 12th District of New Jersey. But he represents all of us who want to see our nation pay better and more effective attention to improving how science and mathematics are taught and learned. Beyond a focus on education, the Congressman has been a champion in national efforts to apply the benefits of scientific investigation and discovery to the most critical matters facing our nation and world.

Though he is a Ph.D. physicist—and his campaign bumper sticker once boasted: “my congressman is a rocket scientist”—Congressman’s Holt core belief is that scientific thinking is not something that only professional scientists do. Holt has observed that the founders of our nation:

…were thinking like scientists; they were asking questions so they could be answered empirically and verifiably. That’s what science is. It is a system for asking questions so you can answer those questions empirically and in a way that others can verify your empirical tests for those answers.

In his 2009 article in our Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, the Congressman went on to write:

Every shopkeeper, every farmer, every factory owner throughout American history has had this scientific tradition. It was common for Americans to think about how things work and how they could be made better and made to work better.

Congressman Holt, along with many other leaders in Congress, has been a leader in supporting STEM education and the development of new technologies and other scientific discoveries to promote employment, production, and economic growth. But he has also raised to a new level of prominence the discourse and analysis on the connection between science and democracy. Scientific thinking, he noted, was essential “for creating the kind of self-critical, self-correcting, evolving society we need to create. The whole balance of powers in our constitution, the whole idea of openness that we embrace as a democracy, these are very scientific in nature.”

For his life’s work “thinking about how things work and how they could be made better and made to work better,” the National Center is pleased to present Congressman Holt with the Bennett Award.

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