January 11, 2016  

State conference on STEM education comes to Purdue campus

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The latest work in STEM education and research is the focus of a state conference at Purdue University. 

More than 600 people from across the state are expected Thursday (Jan. 14) at Stewart Center for the daylong Indiana STEM Education Conference.

The first-time event is sponsored by the College of Education, the Center for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of STEM, the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Carla C. Johnson, associate dean for research, engagement and global partnerships for the College of Education, says effective STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instructional environments, including those focused on real-world problems and infusion of 21st century skills, create improved STEM learning and retention for students.

"A lot of schools are implementing a STEM approach now because they're trying to engage students in learning about disciplines such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the real-world context," she said.  "This approach makes learning more accessible. It can teach things in a tangible way where kids can apply it to their own lives, while building important skills that will prepare them for college and careers that are much needed in Indiana, particularly in STEM fields."

Johnson says Purdue is leading STEM education work in Indiana and across the nation.

The conference schedule includes more than 100 presentations by educators from schools across Indiana as well as representatives from Purdue, Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame, among others. Many presentations deal with new teaching strategies for STEM education.

The conference offers three presentation areas: K-12 STEM practice, STEM education research and STEM resources. Three presentations deal with the College of Education's STEM Road Map K-12 integrated STEM education project grounded in academic standards and real-world STEM themes, which includes a focus on teacher curriculum materials that can be used to begin transforming classrooms with STEM.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels will deliver welcoming remarks to attendees while Provost Debasish Dutta will speak during the event's lunch.

STEM leadership is one of the four pillars of the Purdue Moves initiative designed to broaden the university's global impact and enhance student educational opportunities. Purdue Moves priorities fit among three other categories: world-changing research, transformative education and affordability and accessibility.

The conference provides a platform to circulate the best practices of STEM teaching and learning as well as establish better communications among STEM schools in Indiana.

 "This can build a network so teachers will be able to connect with other schools and learn from each other," Johnson said.

Originally, only 400 attendees were expected for the conference. The College of Education already has initiated plans for a second conference next year on January 12, 2017, that will enable the number of participants to expand significantly.

Purdue's College of Education meets the challenges of educating 21st Century learners by discovering what works in education. The college prepares highly qualified educators and conducts research that informs how teachers teach and students learn. With a focus on integrated P-12 STEM education and a commitment to social justice and diversity, graduates are prepared to be leaders in education, business and society.  

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu 

Source: Carla Johnson, 765-494-0019, carlacjohnson@purdue.edu 

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