The idea for a STEM conference, now in its second year, emerged from a discussion between Hartford Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto and Dean of the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions (ENHP) Ralph O. Mueller while Kishimoto was a member of the ENHP Board of Visitors. The idea resonated with the Board of Visitors. Upon their recommendation it became an initiative of the college and its Institute for Translational Research supporting the goal of the Institute to engage in scholarly activities relevant to the community with active participation from the community.
Mueller called upon leaders in the Hartford Public School System and Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, to envision and implement a plan for a conference that would advance knowledge in teaching and learning about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These anchor partners had previously established affiliation agreements with the University to collaborate on education and research initiatives. Leadership at the Connecticut Science Center offered support and the use of their unique and very fitting facility. The inevitable establishment of a committee followed and included representatives from ENHP, Hartford Public Schools, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, and the Connecticut Science Center. Neighboring East Hartford Public Schools joined as a conference partner early on. West Hartford Public Schools became extensively involved in 2013.
A subgroup of the committee focuses on the content for the conference and develops conference strands. Research is a consistent strand, providing conference goers with the latest findings in STEM education. Hands-on sessions provide teachers with specific ways to incorporate STEM learning in their classrooms. The 2012 conference added a Lunch-and-Learn component with representatives from STEM-related businesses and industries. The 2013 conference featured several sessions designed for teachers and school counselors on how to elicit student interest in STEM careers and the outlook for future careers in STEM-related fields. An optional add-on in 2013, and most likely a recurring feature for future conferences, was the opening of three Hartford Public STEM Schools to conference attendees the day after the conference. Visitors listened to presentations made by school officials and had the opportunity to observe a STEM school in action.
The 2014 date is set. Mark your calendars for Monday, October 6 at the Connecticut Science Center!