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UNCW Hosts Conference on Integrated STEM Education

Thursday, June 08, 2017

UNCW was host to an Integrated STEM Conference on May 20. The purpose of the event was to promote an interdisciplinary approach to STEM education and introduce UNCW’s new integrated STEM programs.

An iSTEM minor will be offered to incoming freshmen in fall 2017. The program is designed to expand career options by enabling students majoring in a STEM-oriented discipline to also earn teaching licensure within four years. A graduate certificate program will be added in spring 2018. The iSTEM certificate program, one of the first of its kind in the nation, is designed for secondary mathematics, science and computer science teachers who want to lead STEM education programs in their schools and districts. UNCW is currently accepting applications for both programs.

“The goal of UNCW’s new programs is to increase the number of STEM professionals in schools and teach them to integrate important concepts across STEM disciplines to prepare future students to enter the workforce with the skills needed to solve complex, global problems,” said WCE professor Mahnaz Moallem, coordinator of the iSTEM graduate program. “The goal of the conference was to bring STEM teachers and UNCW faculty together to learn from each other as we work to enhance and broaden STEM instruction at the university and in schools.”

More than 100 STEM educators attended the conference, held at the Watson College.

In welcoming remarks, UNCW Provost Marilyn Sheerer thanked an extensive team of faculty from the Watson College and the College of Arts and Sciences who worked together for more than two years to develop UNCW’s iSTEM programs.

“Too often we work in silos,” Dr. Sheerer said. “UNCW wants to be known for integration and breaking the silos. The work this amazing team of faculty members has done to bring people together is great.”

The conference featured two keynote speakers, integrated STEM presentations by faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Watson College, and working sessions for STEM teachers and Higher Education STEM faculty.

In a morning keynote address, Drs. Angela and George Shiflet, professors at Wofford College, shared ways computational science is helping to cure disease and solve real world problems. A wide range of examples included the study of HIV, biofilms, asteroids and the declining condor population.

“iSTEM is the way science is done now,” Angela Shiflet said. “It uses computer science and math. We need to educate students this way.”

Michael Grant presented practical ways to integrate STEM disciplines and engage students through project and problem-based learning during the afternoon keynote. Grant is program coordinator for the Educational Technology program at the University of South Carolina.

UNCW faculty members Gene Tagliarini, Gabriel Lugo, Amy Long, Amy Reamer, Sridhar Varadarajan, Russ Herman and Chris Gordon led workshops to help teachers incorporate STEM concepts into the regular curriculum. Tagliarini is professor of computer science; Lugo is associate professor of mathematics and statistics; Long is lecturer in environmental studies; Reamer is director of 2+2 engineering; Varadarajan is associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Herman is professor of mathematics and physics; and Gordon is interim director of CESTEM.

Additional members of the program development team and conference organizing committee were Stuart Borrett, associate professor of biology and marine biology; Jeff Hill, chair and professor of environmental studies; Dennis Kubasko, associate professor of secondary science education; Shelby Morge, associate professor of middle grades mathematics; Sridhar Narayan, professor of computer science; and Angelia Reid-Griffin, associate professor of secondary science education.

The National Science Foundation, through the Noyce Foundation, provided funding for the development of UNCW’s iSTEM programs and the iSTEM Education Conference.

About the iSTEM Programs

Undergraduate Minor - Students entering the UNCW freshmen class in fall 2017 with a major in biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental sciences, mathematics or physics are eligible for the iSTEM minor. For information visit the iSTEM website or contact Amy Reamer at reamera@uncw.edu.

Graduate Certificate Program – Certified secondary mathematics, science and computer science teachers or those who are working toward their teaching licensure are eligible for the new iSTEM Post-Baccalaureate Certification program. Students will complete 18 credit hours of graduate-level courses, field placements and projects in a program designed for working professionals. UNCW’s Graduate School is accepting applications for the program’s first cohort, which begins in spring 2018.

About the Keynote Speakers

Angela Shiflet is the McCalla Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Wofford College, where she helped establish the computer science major. George Shiflet was the Dr. Larry H. McCalla Professor of Biology and department chair at Wofford College for 28 years. Together, they have coauthored a textbook for an introductory course in computational science and engineering, served as Fulbright specialists in Brazil and Italy, and written learning modules used in classrooms around the globe.

Michael M. Grant is coordinator for the Educational Technology program at the University of South Carolina. His scholarship and service focuses on how to design and implement project-based and problem-based learning environments in K-12 and higher education, particularly in STEM disciplines.