This October, Mercy College Center for STEM Education (MCCSE) presented its annual K-12 STEM Teacher Conference. Titled “Investigations into STEM from Diverse Perspectives,” the half-day event was attended by teachers, professors and teacher candidates, many of whom participate in Mercy’s National Science Foundation grant-funded programs run by MCCSE. For the first time since 2019, the conference was held in person on the Dobbs Ferry Campus.
The MCCSE, led by co-directors Dr. Meghan Marrero and Dr. Amanda Gunning, creates opportunities for groups typically underrepresented in STEM to engage in enrichment activities for learning, career readiness and personal and community growth that may not always be available through their school districts.
“The past few years have presented more challenges to schools and teachers than any of us could have imagined, yet it has pushed all educators to find innovative ways to reach all students,” said Gunning in her welcome.
Dr. Eugenia Etkina, distinguished professor of Science Education at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, gave the keynote address. Her talk focused on Investigative Science Learning Environment, an emerging learning system that guides teachers in helping students develop 21st century competencies.
Morning and afternoon workshops were led by teachers enrolled in Mercy programs, including STEM Certificate, Smart Start, MISTI and STEM Master Teacher programs. These teacher leaders engaged participants in a wide range of subjects, such as how to convert a traditional math class to a STEM project-based classroom; involving families in STEM activities in both English and Spanish; a STEM-inspired writing curriculum for teachers of younger students; and developing school gardens as a method of teaching STEM subjects.
During lunch, participants visited posters presented by science teachers who completed classroom projects with Wipro Science Education Fellowship mini-grants. Attendees were able to connect with local informal STEM education entities for field trip ideas. These included the New York Sea Grant, the Bronx Zoo and the Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak. A roundtable discussion, “Brainstorming District Change,” hosted by Mercy’s Wipro Science Education Fellowship (SEF), rounded out the day’s events. Mercy’s new five-year grant from the Greater New York Wipro SEF supports fellows from five local school districts to lead group projects that aim for district-wide change in approaches to science education.
“We are grateful for the support that allows us to offer this conference annually to our wonderful community of teachers in support of K-12 teaching and learning,” said Marrero. “We hope this conference, with its informed exchange of ideas, tools, strategies and ways of thinking, will inspire our community as it continues supporting students in reaching their maximum potential.”