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STEM Forum


NSTA has rescheduled the Detroit face-to-face STEM Forum for July 19-21, 2023

Press Release

The 10th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA, is a unique, focused event that brings together (informal and formal) educators and representatives from exhibiting companies who are interested in, and who have tools and resources to share that will ensure successful implementation of STEM education into our schools and communities. It is intended to provide resources for educators and organizations seeking to learn more about STEM education, associated outreach programs, partnerships, schools, and curricula.

10th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA

Detroit, MI • July 28-July 30


TCF Center • 1 Washington Blvd. • Detroit MI 48226

Twitter hashtags: #NSTA21 (2021 conferences), #NSTA (all-purpose)

Session Proposals—Deadline Extended to January 4, 2021

We know this is a busy and stressful time of year with end-of-the-year exams, the holidays, and the pandemic, so we are extending the deadline for session proposals until Monday, January 4, 2021, at 11:59 PM EST. For more details on submitting a proposal, please visit Presenting at Conferences.

Proposal Review Timeline for the 10th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA

  • NEW submission deadline: January 4, 2021
  • Proposals reviewed in mid- to late January
  • Accepted sessions scheduled and acceptance e-mails sent in late April

hotel and travel iconPlease check back for information on housing and registration.

Conference Strands

strands iconIf you are searching for ways to immediately and effectively apply STEM education in a preK–16 setting or to implement STEM as a best practice, then you should plan to attend this event. Attending the 10th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA, will provide networking opportunities to learn and interact with colleagues from your respective teaching community. The STEM Forum offers the following strands of programming.

Lower Elementary / Early Childhood

Young children show great curiosity about the world and a remarkable capacity to learn on their own; however, they need the assistance of lower elementary and early childhood teachers to foster, guide, and build on their interests and their curiosity to ensure suitable early STEM experiences. We must foster children’s natural curiosity, build their understanding, and help them make sense of their roles in the world. By providing students with inquiry-based experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, we can unlock each student’s natural inquisitiveness and help them understand the world in engaging and relevant ways. The foundational skills learned and mastered through high-quality STEM experiences provide young children with opportunities to develop their critical thinking, executive functioning, and problem-solving skills across disciplines and set the stage for how they approach learning and thinking about content into the future. This integration of STEM during these early years, when orchestrated and delivered correctly, will help prepare students to become our future innovators, researchers, critical thinkers, community leaders, and engaged citizens. Sessions in this strand will foster inquiring minds, logical reasoning, creative thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. Sessions should emphasize open-ended and active exploration, learning through play, and project-based, hands-on investigations of the real world through the lens of NGSS.

Upper Elementary

Innovation is such a crucial component of improving the world around us. It is essential that students develop an interest in analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematics and computational thinking, and creating and communicating their findings. This interest shapes our global society and society shapes technology. As elementary educators, it is paramount that we increase opportunities for students to engage in practices connected to STEM industries to ensure we are connected to future innovations, if not developing them.  
Developing interest in STEM careers requires activities and experiences that encourage collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity. The sessions in this strand illustrate how learning experiences that include engaging lessons are connected to instructional strategies that support STEM instruction and reflect transdisciplinary approaches within the elementary core curriculum.

Please note that special consideration will be given to proposals whose sessions are interactive and engage conference participants in hands-on activities. It is also recommended that you specify if your proposal is intended for a novice or more advanced-level practitioner.

Middle Level

Engaging students through opportunities to explore STEM fields of study that support the NRC Framework and the Next Generation Science Standards is a top priority at the middle school level. A successful middle school STEM program allows students to create, innovate, communicate, collaborate, and iterate projects that are driven by their own interests. The sessions in this strand showcase learning environments where Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics interconnect to serve as a vehicle for discovery, innovation, and independent problem solving while also meeting rigorous content standards.

Please note that special consideration will be given to proposals whose sessions are interactive and engage conference participants in hands-on activities, allowing them to walk away with a new skill, resource, understanding, or tool. It is also recommended that you specify if your proposal is intended for a novice or more advanced-level practitioner.

High School

In preparation for college and career readiness, students must be able to apply their understanding in the context of real-world problem solving. In STEM for grades 9–12, educators inspire students to pursue careers in STEM fields, while also providing them with a base of knowledge and skills to prepare them for rewarding and productive careers. Here, STEM is integrated in classroom-based practices that highlight innovative, hands-on, student-centered approaches that seek to nurture curiosity, motivation, and achievement in these fields. See how educators are increasing student engagement and improving instruction, and hear what is required to scale these impacts across subject areas, schools, and districts. Sessions in this strand showcase the innovative ways educators are addressing the challenges of engaging students with their communities in STEM while meeting Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science standards.

STEM Ecosystems: Supporting Diverse, Equitable Practices and Partnerships

STEM Ecosystems are dynamic and complex. They are STEM centered on and encompass all aspects—living and nonliving—within students’ learning environments. Teachers, administrators, families, and peers play vital roles in students’ scientific efficacy, dispositions, and content knowledge. Equally critical is the role of nonliving aspects of STEM ecosystems, such as the physical environment, tools, and policy on STEM learning. It is the sum and interaction of these aspects of a learning environment that define a STEM Ecosystem. As in nature, the health of an ecosystem is threatened when a critical aspect of the environment is compromised. This year, we will focus on access and equity as keystone aspects of a healthy STEM Ecosystem. Through equitable practices and opportunities, STEM Ecosystems for all students thrive. Without, STEM Ecosystems are drastically changed and can have significant, differential impacts on students. 

This strand will highlight successful preK–16 efforts that support access and equity in STEM Ecosystems through practice and partnerships. These Ecosystems include STEM learning in school and out-of-school contexts. Given the recent global pivot to virtual learning, effective curricula, tools, and resources are especially needed that model equitable practices within virtual, in-person, and hybrid learning environments. STEM educators are masters of adaptability. Teachers are genuinely interested in ensuring that all students succeed. The STEM Ecosystem framework supports educators’ natural inclination to consider the Big Picture and desire to help all students reach their full potential, regardless of disability, background, creed, or socioeconomic status. As a critical part of the STEM Ecosystem, educators can leverage resources within and outside of the classroom to build partnerships that promote STEM learning through access and equity. Through partnerships with community-based organizations such as science centers and museums, afterschool programs, and local businesses, educators, administrators, and communities help to maintain the health and sustainability of STEM Ecosystems for which all students can thrive.


Join our community of postsecondary educators as we discuss new interdisciplinary research related to STEM teaching and learning in college science courses, AP/IB curriculum, preparing science teacher candidates, and STEM workforce development. Sessions in this strand will highlight pedagogical and discipline-based topics and will feature interactive workshops, research highlights, and an extended, special unconference-style workshop.  

All postsecondary proposals should be submitted to the following address no later than 12 Midnight, March 1, 2021: Be sure to include your full name, school name, e-mail, and phone number as well as a session title and 150-word (or less) description of your proposal.

If you do not receive a confirmation within 24 hours of receipt, then please e-mail

Presenters will be notified no later than March 30, 2021.

STRAND TOPICS: To provide workshops, presentations, and an Edcamp/unconference focusing on the following:
  • Pedagogical and discipline-based research on STEM teaching and/or learning.
  • Transformational undergraduate science education. 
  • Research on the efficacy of professional development models.
  • Preservice education.
CRITERIA: Proposals will be evaluated on the extent that they:
  • Align with one or more strand topics.
  • Are grounded in cultural competency (promote equity, demonstrate the value of diversity, and address the impact of bias).
  • Support or identify specific goals from the NRC Framework, NGSS, or state standards for Mathematics, Computer Science, and Industrial Technology. 
  • Are based on current and available research and issues in STEM education.
  • Demonstrate STEM as an interdisciplinary approach to learning that removes traditional barriers between Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
  • Include research that addresses underrepresented/underprepared students as well as proposals with research that is applicable to all levels of college science teaching.
Unconference for the Postsecondary Strand

Challenges and Strategies: An Unconference for Teaching Postsecondary Students

All conference attendees are invited to join our community of postsecondary educators as relative topics in STEM education are discussed and debated in this unique Edcamp/unconference format. Be prepared to share, learn, and lead through this shared experience.

Steering Committee

Karen Hays

Youth Programs Manager
Denver Zoological Foundation
Denver, CO

Jennifer Williams

Lower Elementary / Early Childhood Strand Leader
Department Chair, Lower School Science
Isidore Newman School
New Orleans, LA

Dedric McGhee

Upper Elementary Strand Leader
STEM Manager
Shelby County Schools
Div. of Career and Technical Education
Memphis, TN

Reneé Belisle

Middle Level Strand Leader
Team Lead and K–8 Science Curriculum Specialist
Denver Public Schools
Denver, CO

Scott Buhr

High School Strand Leader
Physics Teacher
Hillcrest High School
Simpsonville, SC

Monya A. Ruffin-Nash, PhD

STEM Ecosystems: Supporting Diverse, Equitable Practices and Partnerships Strand Leader
Program Director
National Science Foundation
Directorate for Education and Human Resources
Division for Research on Learning (DRL)
Alexandria, VA

Brian Ogle

Postsecondary Strand Leader
Associate Professor of Anthrozoology, and Dept. Chair, General Education
Beacon College
Leesburg, FL

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