Wrap-up from 21st Century STEM: Integrate 2 Innovate

Hadi Partovi answering questions from panel of high school studentsI spent two full days in downtown Phoenix at last month’s 21st Century STEM: Integrate 2 Innovate conference. This ambitious event was presented by the Arizona STEM Collaborative (AzTEA-Arizona Technology in Education Association, ASTA-Arizona Science Teachers Association, AATM-Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics) and Science Foundation Arizona.

Keynote addresses from Hadi Partovi and Elizabeth Holmes were followed by Q&A sessions from panels of high school students. The questions weren’t just polite softball questions, which led to interesting exchanges.

One example was a question to Holmes, who dropped out of Stanford at age 19 to develop her company, Theranos.Elizabeth Holmes high school students Q&A panel A student asked her about the importance of going to college, given Holmes’ own education path. The answer wasn’t very enlightening, something along the lines of decisions like that are very personal and depend on individual circumstances/what was right for me would not necessarily be right for someone else, but it was a great question to ask.

The heart of the conference was its breakout sessions. Sessions presented innovative ways for teachers to engage students with STEM subjects. There were also great panel discussions focused on the bigger picture, how STEM fits into the community in terms of workplace development and public support.

One of the biggest messages I got from the conference is that Arizona needs to expand the scope and reach of its STEM education, and that the state’s citizens need to demand adequate financial support from every level of government in the state, from individual schools and districts to the Arizona Board of Regents, governor, and legislators.

Here’s a quick slideshow with highlights from the two-day event.

 

Arizona’s teachers embrace the challenge of teaching STEM in the 21st Century

Logo for 21st Century STEM: Integrate 2 Innovate ConferenceWhat does it take to create a conference for STEM teachers?

If you’re in Arizona in 2016, it takes vision, determination, and a dash of moxie.

The 21st Century STEM: Integrate 2 Innovate Conference on January 22-23 brings teachers from all corners of Arizona and the United States to the Phoenix Convention Center for two days. They will examine the interesting ways that STEM is currently being taught in Arizona’s K-12 classrooms, and will look ahead at the future of STEM learning in the state.

Spearheaded by representatives from organizations like Science Foundation Arizona, the Arizona Science Teachers Association, the Arizona Technology in Education Association, and the Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics, the Arizona STEM Collaborative decided it was time to showcase both what our state is doing right in STEM education and the ways that Arizona is becoming a powerhouse of innovative STEM teaching and learning.

The two-day conference features sessions , panel discussions, and speakers focusing on the wide world of STEM, from coding, 3D printing, robotics, and traditional STEM subjects, to STEM in the larger context of schools and communities. Many of the sessions focus on applications of STEM here in Arizona. In the session, How Did the Elk Cross the Road? (Eco-STEM in Action), teams of teachers will work with real data to  problem-solve ways to get elk across roadways without impacting humans. [What’s that you say? Elk in Arizona? You bet. Arizona encompasses an incredibly diverse range of terrain, fauna, and flora!]

While I am at the conference, I will be tweeting live, so be sure to follow me @agentsofsteam. That way, even if you aren’t at the conference in person, you can pick up some interesting tidbits of information and facts that I run across during talks and sessions.

And please be sure to check back here after the conference, where I will include a post-conference wrap-up, plus photos.

Connect2STEM kicks off the Arizona SciTech Festival during Super Bowl Weekend

Logo for Connect2STEMMy most recent guest blog post for the Arizona SciTech Festival is about Connect2STEM, the Festival’s 2015 kickoff event that happens Saturday, January 31 from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. in downtown Phoenix. To write it, I talked with Allison Otu, Director of Outreach and Communications at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. Her excitement and enthusiasm about the upcoming event was contagious–I am contemplating making the four-hour round trip drive up there to experience it myself!