Educating STEM CABOCES | Workshop Debrief

The Third Teacher+ had a great opportunity to work with over 50 educators from western New York during a full-day workshop on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and design.  The goal of the day was to introduce the process of design and how the design process could be used in STEM program development, as well as how design could serve as a pedagogical foundation for learning based in a STEM approach.

We began the day with a presentation that explored an expedition of learning based in innovation and design.  Using the theme of "a STEM expedition," participants had an opportunity to immerse themselves in the design process by creating a talisman for their workshop partner.  Other design opportunities during the day reinforced the elements and the process of design and how it could support a STEM student learning experience.  An additional highlight of the day was engaging with Chris Lehmann, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) through a Google Hangout.  Chris discussed a variety of topics including the development and operation of SLA, innovation, leadership and creating a school culture capable of supporting educational change and continual growth.

Major takeaways for the day:

  1. Design around experience, not things.  In this case, design around the student STEM student learning experience.  
  2. There is a specific language of design, composed of words such as empathy, ideation, prototyping, and iteration.
  3. The design process is grounded in a human-centered approach that seeks first to understand the implications and breadth of an issue or problem.  This is done through a process with a foundation in empathy.
  4. The design process, although a process, can provide rich opportunities developing creativity and fueling innovation.
  5. The design process encourages the development of complex cognitive skills, including listening, synthesizing (pattern-seeking), interdependent thinking, ideation, and communication.
  6. The design of learning is based in identifying and designing for the development of content understanding, skills, and habits of the mind, while considering the resources, people, and environment that support that development.
  7. Design is a process that could be used as a pedagogical approach in a STEM program.
  8. Developing a design mindset means approaching problems and opportunities with a design mentality.  This leads to the development of a design disposition.
  9. Design has the potential to re-introduce creativity and wonder into learning.
  10. Developing STEM and design learning opportunities are not mutually-exclusive of preparing students for standardized tests and standards-based curriculum.  Use the design process to address the development of a STEM program capable of preparing students for multiple expectations and opportunities.

We're excited to see the how the Educating STEM series progresses and how future speakers add depth, experiences, and knowledge to the participants' understanding of STEM experiences.  We're also excited to be working with our Grand Island team on the final session of the experience, focused on spaces, STEM in New York, and making STEM a reality for students.

Resources for the workshop are here.