Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programming and the use of educational technology devices are topics at the epicenter of contemporary education discourse. On January 21st, 2016, CASDA will host a symposium entitled “STEM and Educational Technology” to examine the degree to which these concepts are being successfully integrated into curricula and ask essential questions about how educators can use these ideas to provide enriching learning opportunities for students. The conference will utilize distance learning equipment and shared document collaboration to help present its content. The goal of this endeavor is to engage in questioning and refining STEM and educational technology practices while engaging in many of the media it offers.
Keynote presenters Ann Myers and Jill Berkowicz provided the genesis of the conference in their book “The STEM Shift.” Their foundational argument is clearly outlined in an article for Education Week entitled “STEM Doesn’t Narrow the Curriculum.” Myers and Berkowicz state that “an assumption that schools based on the principles of STEM diminish the focus on subjects other than those four is a critical misunderstanding.” The authors contend that STEM programming functions best when it is integrated with subjects typically associated with the liberal arts.
The symbiotic relationship between STEM and the arts is central to the work of Myers and Berkowicz and the “STEM and Educational Technology” conference. Examining the synthesizer as a musical instrument reveals the depth of this connection. While a musician may not precisely grasp the electrical engineering concepts applied to the construction of a synthesizer, they are inspired by the range of sounds, filters and effects that instrument offers. They utilize these qualities to create new works of art. This works in reverse as well. An engineer or physicist may not understand the harmonic theory or rhythmic variety at play in a musical composition. However, they may be moved by it on an emotional or personal level and be inspired to work on advancing musical instrument technology. Beyond that, the musician may become curious about the science at work in their craft and an engineer may be moved to learn a musical instrument.
Dr. Pam Buffington will share her experiences embedding iPads into Common Core Math curriculum at the elementary level. This presentation provides an example of the successful applications of technology to drive improved student outcomes.
The afternoon will focus on panel and group discussions. Panelists Sal D’Angelo of Bethlehem, Steven Ford of East Greenbush and Nicole Dixson of Greenwich will join CASDA’s Tom McKee in a conversation that illuminates both the challenges of successfully integrating educational technology and strategies to overcome these barriers. A group discussion utilizing collaborative document sharing will invite conference participants to share their experiences working with technology.
“STEM and Educational Technology” offers teachers and administrators a unique opportunity to examine current practices for integrating STEM concepts and technology into all subjects and reflect upon how they may be improved. It is an invitation to ask questions, engage in collaboration and promote a discourse that strives to employ technology to provide students with greater, more diverse learning opportunities.