Teachers Gather for Second Annual STEM Educators Summit

A group of teachers huddled around a doll on Saturday morning and looked at the shadow it cast when lit with a flashlight. It wasn't a lesson in shadow puppetry that had them so deeply engrossed. It was an innovative approach to teaching proportional reasoning.

On May 7, K-12 educators from across the region gathered at UNH Manchester for the second annual STEM Educators Summit presented by the UNH STEM Teachers Collaborative (STEM TC) and hosted by UNH Manchester, the STEM Discovery Lab, the UNH Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering, UNH Cooperative Extension, and UNH Department of Education.

“The 2016 STEM Educators Summit was a great way for teachers to learn about and practice new technologies and ideas, get a deeper introduction to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and network with other dedicated professionals,” said Laura Nickerson, director of STEM TC.

The Summit's educator workshops delved into a range of topics, including robotics, sustainability, marine science, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) practices, and mathematics. “K-12 educators are the ones who are going to transform STEM education," commented Lara Gengarelly, Cooperative Extension's science literacy state specialist. "The Summit offers a valuable platform for educators to exchange ideas and strengthen their instructional practice.”

Chris Emdin delivers key note at 2016 STEM Educators Summit.

Chris Emdin, associate professor of science education at Columbia Teachers College, delivered the keynote address. His talk focused on distilling the magic of teaching and delivering that to students. Through videos and stories, Emdin asked teachers to think about their students and challenged them to think differently about education and the way they communicate. For example, while many decry the prolific use of smartphones and social media, Emdin suggested teachers embrace this new communication reality and recommended they use Twitter. Ruth Varner, associate professor and director of the Leitzel Center, was impressed with Emdin’s approach and “how engaged the Summit participants were in thinking about new ways to connect with and engage their students.”

Ken La Valley, dean and director of UNH Cooperative Extension and Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) also spoke during the event. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) sent video messages, and Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) offered letters of support.

Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH); Ruth Varner, Director of the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education; Ken LaValley, Dean, UNH Cooperative Extension; Laura Nickerson, Director of UNH STEM Teachers' Collaborative

Teachers learn how to utilize microcontrollers in the classroom.