My week at the Siemens STEM Institute

This is a post that I should have written quite a while ago. I haven’t put it off because of laziness, but because I’ve really been struggling to find the right words that will do this topic justice.

Back in March, I was notified that I had been selected as one of fifty (yes, 5-0) educators nationwide to attend the Siemens STEM Institute in Washington DC! What an honor! What a great opportunity for professional development in an area that I am very passionate about. I was so excited, yet a little nervous.

I was flown to Washington DC in August and met with the most outstanding group of people – educators, leaders, professionals, presenters, and so on. We were told up front that we’d be treated the way teachers should be treated. They truly treated us like rock stars. Who knew that teachers and rock stars were synonymous?! We spent the most amazing week participating in workshops, hearing from charismatic presenters, completing STEM hands-on challenges, Tweeting (there was LOTS of Tweeting – check our our feed here: twitter.com/hashtag/stemin14), and collaborating. It was the best professional development of my career. As part of our duty to pay-it-forward, we were asked to become ambassadors of STEM in our own communities. We set goals for ourselves with deadlines. To keep myself honest, here are mine!

6 hour goal – Video is a fear of mine. We needed to present a very short ~1 minute modified Pecha Kucha presentation to our peers to sum up our week. I took this opportunity to tackle my fear and do a video for my presentation. To my surprise, the other day I was on Twitter and looking through #STEMin14 Tweets, to find ME! My face as the default image on a video shared by Dr. Lodge McCammon. Take a look!

6 day goal – Upon returning from the fellowship, I attended EdCamp Cape Cod a few days later. I proposed and presented a session on STEM integration. I really wanted to start the conversation with teachers and allow us to all share our experiences and ideas on how to add more STEM to the classroom, and more importantly, how to boost the interest of females and minorities.

6 week goal – At the start of my school year, I wanted to do more with STEM. My students have been craving more computer science since participating in the Hour of Code to celebrate Computer Science Education Week in December. I created a project on donorschoose.org to help get more computer science goodies in my classroom in order to start a computer science group. The project was funded in 7 days! Wow. The support was very powerful and humbled me. It also showed me how important this subject material is! The goodies were delivered this week and we’ll be getting started shortly.

6 month goal – My longer-term goal is to provide my students with a monthly STEM challenge. We completed so many fun, interactive, collaborative, and challenging projects while at the fellowship. I want to implement these in my classroom, but the materials are expensive.  I have pushed forward with another project on donorschoose.org – We Want STEM-tastic Challenges! I’m hoping to get this project funded so that we can do the Barbie Bungee, build catapults, create giant bubbles, and so on.

While on the goal kick, I’m adding in my own 6 year goal even though it wasn’t something we were told to do. I would love to pursue a doctoral degree in educational technology. Just need to find the right program that will fit my needs! 🙂

Here are some photos of my week at the Siemens STEM Institute.