Niswonger’s STEM.LD hosts educators from across the region for Summer Institute

Published 4:25 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

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The Niswonger Foundation’s STEM.LD project hosted the 2024 STEM.LD Summer Institute in June at Northeast State Community College. 

Nearly 100 K-12 educators from across the region gathered to collaborate and learn from other STEM educators in the state. Educators began their day with a welcome from Dr. Jeff McCord, President of Northeast State Community College, and a keynote address from Dr. Tiffany Neill and Levi Patrick. 

STEM.LD Project Director Dr. Vicki Kirk said, “We were so pleased to have Dr. Tiffany Neill and Levi Patrick as our keynote speakers. They presented a model they developed to assess STEM lessons and curricula. It is a simple yet effective way to analyze the four components of a STEM program.”

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Dr. Neill and Patrick’s keynote address focused on forging a shared vision for STEM education to inspire and prepare students to pursue STEM interests and careers. They stressed the importance of educators, policymakers, and industry leaders working together to ensure students gain the foundational knowledge in math and science necessary for thriving in STEM career fields. 

The keynote speakers followed their address with a breakout session about analyzing existing STEM lessons or programs and learning how to turn them up to provide richer STEM experiences for students.

“It was really awesome to gain a new understanding of what STEM is and a general guideline for how it is being implemented. I am excited to use the rubric with my lesson plans this year to support my students,” said Madison Wilder, a biology teacher at Chuckey-Doak High School. “As a newer teacher, it makes me feel more comfortable working with cross curriculum and being able to measure to what degree we are being successful with it,” she said.

STEM.LD’s other breakout sessions covered topics such as synthetic biology, phenomenon-based learning, aviation, cybersecurity, project-based learning, math standards in action, tutoring, teacher externships, and STEM in healthcare professions. 

The TEC houses state of the art lab spaces for technology programs, including cybersecurity, aviation, computer numeric control (CNC) machining, welding, HVAC/electromechanical, electrical and wiring, magnetics and motors, and programmable logic controller (PLC)/mechatronics. 

Dawn Bridwell said, “We are always excited to partner with an organization such as the Niswonger Foundation, especially on a project like Summer Institute. These events provide a great benefit to our region, and we are proud to be a part of it.  Northeast State looks forward to a continued partnership with Niswonger and the opportunity to positively impact our region’s communities.”

STEM.LD is a $8.8 million federal Education Innovation and Research grant project geared toward increasing student success and improving student outcomes in STEM courses. STEM.LD connects participating schools with regional and national STEM partners to enhance their school’s STEM offerings, whether it is through coursework, out-of-school time student activities, or professional development opportunities for teachers.