About the Conference
The VMI STEM Education Conference series is in its 4th year. Each year has had a particular focus on science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Each conference seeks to bring educators and students across Virginia together for two days of professional development, enrichment and fun.
This third VMI STEM Education Conference explored engineering principles and pedagogical methods and strategies with the goal of incorporating engineering concepts and projects into the teaching of math and science. It was specifically designed for classroom, math and science teachers of grades three through eight, as well as the administrators who support them.
All participants had the opportunity to participate in workshops and sessions with VMI faculty and teachers from across the commonwealth, as well as take part in small group discussions on best practices and sign-up to deliver five-minute “open-mic” speed presentations.
Through this diverse, dynamic schedule, attendees gained a better understanding of engineering, including research and careers for current and next generations, lesson plans that work well in the classroom, and the broader learning environment including engineering programs that engage students beyond the classroom.
The schedule included a keynote address delivered by Mr. Grant Imahara of Mythbusters
whose insights on the 'ingredients' needed to make STEM learning fun were in turn highly entertaining for our audience. We also listened to great speakers like Dr. Nathan whose research in STEM learning was well-received, Dr. Hastings
who spoke on her educational and career choices in STEM and related those experiences back to the role of STEM educators and finally, Dr. Steven Staples, our current Superintendent of Instruction who spoke to us about the State's emphasis desire to improve STEM education, the need to be leaders in this field, teacher and student credentialing so that we get the right teachers into our classroom and we are giving our students meaningful credentials so they have more choices upon graduation.
The 2013 VMI STEM Education Conference focused on "Science with the Future in Mind" and included approximately 250 high school students and teachers.
Attendees explored current scientific research as well as the pedagogy of science. Participating teachers had the opportunity to take advantage of 14 contact hours of professional development credit. Participating students saw science in action and had the opportunity to build relationships with mentors who love STEM.
Each attendee was able to participate in a class led by one of Virginia's top high school science teachers, find out more about research taking place in labs at VMI and other colleges and universities in Virginia, and learn more about research taking place in government and industrial labs.
Plenary speakers included nationally recognized scientists working on cutting edge research, including Dr. William Casebeer, program manager in the Defense Sciences Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Dr. Amy Bernard, director of structured science at the Allen Institute of Brain Science, and Daniel Willingham, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia and author of “Why Don’t Students like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom” (Jossey Bass, 2010). Emmy-award winning science personality and educator Steve Spangler served as keynote speaker.
Nearly 600 attendees participated in the 2012 STEM Education Conference, "Mathematics as the Gateway to STEM Success," including 540 K-16 teachers and administrators, 40 high school students representing a total of 126 schools, and policy-makers and business leaders from across the commonwealth and beyond.
The goal of the conference was to foster a better understanding of math in the classroom - how it can be taught and learned - while highlighting the latest research. State and national leaders in STEM fields led a variety of breakout sessions, inspiring interaction and discussion between K-16 educators. Hands-on workshops geared toward student attendees and led by STEM professionals helped students learn firsthand about exciting research taking place in higher education. Workshop leaders spoke with students about envisioning and pursuing STEM careers, and a first class cadet provided a lesson in leadership.
Plenary speakers included Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum in New York; Salman Khan, creator of the Khan Academy; and Cathy Seeley, Senior Fellow at the Dana Center, The University of Texas at Austin.