Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's Not Rocket Science!

 I was recently given the opportunity to attend a STEM Leadership conference sponsored by our local university and Verizon.  Pairs of Mentor Teachers and their Novice Teachers were invited to attend together. I really love that the intent was to foster on-going learning relationships with teachers. Attending workshops in the summer is not always fun...but THIS opportunity was not only fun- it was inspiring!

 If you don't know much about STEM and why it's important, here's the basic breakdown.

Obviously, this is something we can do something about- starting in elementary school. So what stops us? For me it is funding and lack of materials. At this conference I learned that the key to getting funding for STEM programs in our schools really relies on partnerships with businesses/corporations. According to our presenters, they have bookoos of funds available and teachers rarely fill out the grants. So I need to get my tail in gear! 


  My favorite speaker of the day was Rose Kirk, Verizon's Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer. I immediately related to her because she is homegrown (an Arkansas girl!) Verizon supports a number of STEM educational initiatives, including the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program and the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.  I had no idea!

 Throughout the day, we participated in several hands-on workshops. This was SO fun! If I am hooked, I am sure my students will be. I can't wait to integrate STEM activities in my classroom!

 Here we are transferring fat-head minnows (I did NOT make that name up!) and water fleas into small containers. We learned how these animals are used to help test the toxicity of water. It was really cool!

Here we are in a workshop with Vic Dreier, director of Project Lead the Way. PLTW provides a comprehensive approach to STEM Education using activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum for students K-12.  We got just a taste PLTW and participated in fun (back-to-school appropriate) STEM Activities.

Here we are with one challenge: Create 2 name tags using only 2 pipe cleaners, 1 notecard, 1 rubber band, and 1 paperclip.

At the end of the conference we were surprised with free stuff (and not just ink pens and note pads!) Who doesn't love free stuff?!? 

Excited Teachers with Kindle Fires and USBs!

 Thank you to ASU and Verizon for partnering to get us excited about STEM! If you have the opportunity to attend an event like this in the future, I HIGHLY recommend it! Also, if you are looking for STEM resources in your area, start with your state's STEM coalition. 



  1. We are starting PLTW next year at my school. I am so excited, but I know there will be a huge learning curve for me. I am excited to hear more about your journey with project based learning!

  2. Thanks for stopping by! I think it is awesome that your school is starting PLTW next year! I'm jealous!! I don't know if Vic Dreier will be at your school, but if he is- you will love him! So engaging! Have you been to the training sessions yet?