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Watson College News

WCE Hosts STEM Events for School Administrators and Teachers

Saturday, January 09, 2016

In January, WCE’s Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CESTEM) was host to a series of events for STEM educators in the region. Over the course of three days, keynote speakers and nearly 70 presenters shared strategies and hands-on activities designed to engage students and help build knowledge and skills needed for future careers.

“The events bring together STEM leaders from business, education and informal learning centers around the state to provide professional development support for teachers and administrators,” said CESTEM director Dennis Kubasko. “We hope that every participant will take effective strategies back to share with students and other teachers in their schools.”

This year’s January STEM week events emphasized computer science and engineering programs, Kubasko said.

Discovery Education Leadership Academy – Jan. 7

“Teaching, Leading and Learning in a Digital World” was the topic of a STEM Leadership Academy on Jan. 7. Thirty school administrators, teachers and instructional coaches attended the event, sponsored by Discovery Education.

During the six-hour seminar, Karen Beerer, vice president of learning and development for Discovery Education, shared best practices and new ways to incorporate technology into classrooms to help students prepare for success in a rapidly evolving digital world.

The event was the second annual conference CESTEM has offered in partnership with Discovery Education and the Southeast Education Alliance (SEA).

Second Annual K-12 Teacher Education Conference  – Jan. 8

A K-12 teacher education conference on Jan. 8 attracted a capacity gathering of 150 teachers. The event was featured in a story on the UNCW home page: www.uncw.edu/news/2016/01/watson-college-of-education-hosts-second-annual-k-12-stem-education-conference.html.

Sixty-four presenters led 40 breakout sessions on a wide range of topics including robotics, the latest innovations in 3-D printing, environmental sustainability, integrating the arts in STEM and ways to implement STEM programs for students with autism. Additional workshops were designed to help teachers and administrators manage successful programs such as Science Olympiad and family STEM nights.

Kathy Ibbotson, engineering program coordinator for UNCW Youth Programs and Karl Ricanek, UNCW computer science professor, were keynote speakers.

Ibbotson said there is a high need for engineers with creative problem-solving skills and the ability to accept failure as well as success.

In the future, engineers will be called on to help solve big, global problems such as how to produce sufficient food and energy for a growing population, she said. This knowledge can’t be taught because the answers don’t exist yet. Instead, Ibbotson encouraged teachers to help students build skills and confidence by finding ways to engage them in solving real life problems, fostering student creativity and giving them opportunities to fail in controlled settings.

Ricanek is the founder and director of the Face Aging Group Research Lab. He shared with teachers how his work demonstrates a real-world application of the intersection of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center and the Southeast Education Alliance were co-sponsors of the STEM Teacher Education Conference.

Additional sponsors and exhibitors were Accelerate Learning, Amplify, Burroughs Welcome Foundation, Camcor Inc., Cape Fear Museum, City of Wilmington, Discovery Education, Frey Scientific, Lab Aids, LearnEdNotebooks, Lego Education, MarineQuest, National Geographic, NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, North Carolina Science Olympiad, North Carolina Science & Engineering Fair, The Science House, WCE Center for Assistive Technology and WCE Professional Development System.

Wilmington STEMposium – Jan. 9

On Jan. 9, CESTEM partnered with Accelerate Learning to co-host a professional development workshop, introducing the newly released product, STEMscopes. STEMscopes use the innovative IDEA lesson model across three platforms – digital, kit and print – to help students understand the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Dr. Reid Whitaker, creator of STEMscopes, and Sharry Whitney, professional development specialist for STEMscopes, were featured presenters.

Kubasko and SEA executive director Linda Lowe said feedback to all three events was very positive and plans for 2017 STEM conferences are already underway.

Additional Coverage of the STEM Events

WECT, Jan. 7 www.wect.com/story/30910795/local-educators-learn-digital-classroom-strategies#.Vo-gl2q-PO4.email.

WWAY, Jan 7 www.wwaytv3.com/2016/01/07/teachers-talk-about-educating-in-the-digital-world/.