Leaders in STEAM education share ideas and strategies for K-12 STEAM implementation
Apr 25, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
On March 22 and 23, leaders in Georgia K-12 STEAM education gathered at Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons for the Second Annual CEISMC @ Georgia Tech STEAM Leadership Conference.
The STEAM Leadership Conference aims to help STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) decision makers – including superintendents, curriculum coordinators, principals, academic coaches, content specialists, teacher leaders, and artists lead their districts and schools in becoming more STEAM-focused.
This year’s event was almost twice the size of the first conference, with around 240 attendees. A big reason for this growth was the focus on the arts, which offer creative ways for students to interact with difficult or abstract concepts. “I was proud to see every type of art involved. Music, drama, and visual arts are being used to teach mathematics, engineering, science, and computer science,” said Casey Bethel, Program Director for Campus and Community Coordination at CEISMC.
Georgia Tech is rich with examples of research and instruction that combine STEM and art and is uniquely equipped to help advance STEAM education. Ten Georgia Tech faculty members presented their work and contributed their ideas, examples, and expertise in effective STEAM implementation.
For example, Jennifer Leavey, Integrated Science Curriculum Coordinator for the College of Sciences, conducted a workshop about incorporating creative writing into science and mathematics classes. Leavey’s rock band, Leucine Zipper and the Zinc Fingers, performed several science-themed songs.
At the conference, CEISMC’s partners showcased their work. Students and teachers from Drew Charter School hosted a workshop demonstrating how they learned to code robotic puppets while simultaneously developing writing and drama skills. A STEM teacher from Hollis Innovation Academy also spoke on a panel during a keynote address.
The conference gave participants guidance for effective STEAM implementation and meaningful arts integration in their schools and districts. Participants also had plenty of opportunities for networking, both during breaks in the conference and afterwards at the STEAM Networking Mixer.
“At the conference, we had a group of schools that were just starting the process of STEAM certification,” Bethel said. “They could hear from each other about obstacles they were facing. We also had some STEAM-certified schools trying to move to the next level. The conference creates a network of support for schools that are trying to implement STEAM education.”
STEAM leadership “is an area where – as district personnel – we are always trying to see what other districts are doing,” said Cherokee County School District K-12 Curriculum Coordinator Shannon Carroll, who attended the conference. “The ability to hear from other districts and collaborate with them – especially with an institution like Georgia Tech and CEISMC – really carries a lot of clout.”
Ganel Adams, a site coordinator from Communities in Schools Atlanta, attended the conference to hear from schools that face obstacles similar to those of her own school. “I came to help get my kids more engaged in STEM-related fields. My kids come from lower-income communities, so I am trying to figure out ways to bridge that gap,” Adams said.
The conference also addressed equity and access in STEAM education. CEISMC staff hosted a panel discussion that examined innovative STEAM education, professional development for educators, and sustainable community partnerships.
“Research has shown that out-of-school experiences are important to students pursuing STEAM subjects and careers. CEISMC works hard through numerous programs such as Horizons, KIDS Club, Summer PEAKS, First Lego League, and InVenture to make sure all students have an opportunity to participate in these experiences,” said Chris Thompson, Associate Director of Technology and Student Activities at CEISMC. “In particular, we focus on underrepresented groups and work hard to close the opportunity gap for these students.”
Panel members outlined strategies, curricula, and programs that provide underrepresented minorities and girls with opportunities to participate in STEAM.
The conference asserted CEISMC’s mission to advocate for and lead systemic changes to make STEAM more accessible for underrepresented students by drawing upon the expertise of the Georgia Tech community.
By Rosemary Pitrone - CEISMC Communications