To help you make the most of the professional development opportunities available at the STEM Forum & Expo, the Steering Committee has planned the conference around six strands that explore topics of current significance, enabling you to focus on a specific area of interest or need.
How do we get students prepared to think and work in a global word? Let's begin with effective preK–2 STEM instruction. Providing students with inquiry-based experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is the key to unlocking their emerging world. The foundational skills learned and mastered through STEM integration during the early years lead to citizens who enter adulthood proficient and prepared.
How do we respond to research that indicates that by the time our students reach the fourth grade, a third of them will lose interest in science? How do we ensure that our students develop a solid foundation in the STEM areas so that they are prepared to both work and live in the 21st century? To reverse this trend and ignite their interest in future STEM careers, elementary students need quality early learning activities and experiences that spark curiosity, promote confidence, and develop competence in STEM subjects. The sessions in this strand showcase programs and instructional strategies that support STEM and have been successfully integrated into the elementary core curriculum.
With a national push to ensure middle grades students demonstrate a mastery of basic skills in math and language arts, how do we teach these subjects most effectively? The answer is an integrated approach to teaching and learning. While science and math have traditionally been relegated to a distinct block of time, effective STEM education is essentially an integrated approach to teaching and learning. The sessions in this strand showcase programs and instructional strategies that support STEM and have been successfully integrated into the traditional middle grades curriculum.
As we move forward in the 21st century and begin preparing high school students to enter the workforce and college, STEM careers should be optimal goals for all students. Traditionally, high school content would be taught in isolation of other areas of study. Now, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics must be effectively integrated and delivered in impactful and meaningful ways. Using an integrated approach that includes real-world connections and hands-on experiences will establish a solid STEM education for students in grades 9–12. The sessions in this strand will highlight strategies and curriculum design both for formal and informal learning environments that best facilitate effective STEM integration and STEM Career Awareness.
As the Nation recognizes the importance of STEM education to our economic future, we are beginning to see collaborations in STEM education between preK–middle schools, high schools, higher education, and business and cultural communities, with varying degrees of success and impact. The sessions in this strand highlight select initiatives that have demonstrated an impact and have been successfully implemented.
The United States possesses the most innovative, technologically capable economy in the world, and yet its science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is failing to ensure that all American students receive the skills and knowledge required for success in the 21st-century workforce. The STEM fields are collectively considered the core technological underpinnings of an advanced society, according to both the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation. In many forums (including political/governmental and academic), the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation's ability to sustain itself. Maintaining a citizenry that is well versed in the STEM fields is a key segment of the U.S. public education agenda.
Successful STEM programs at the primary and secondary levels align the interrelated nature of science and mathematics education with an emphasis on technology and engineering through hands-on and real-life applications for elementary, middle school, and high school students. As the world moves toward a knowledge-based economy, how do we consider new ways to seed, nurture, and cultivate our manpower to sustain long-term growth and innovation? How can STEM education programs be factored into school improvement plans and master schedules? How do schools encourage and manage support from all stakeholders?
For a list of sessions for each strand, click on the links above.