1st Annual FiRST STEM Summit

I had the opportunity to attend the 1st FiRST (Fredericksburg Regional STEM Team) STEM Summit in downtown Fredericksburg.  It was an amazing night filled with excitement about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) in our local schools.  There were representatives from schools (students, teachers, ITRTs, principals, superintendents, professors from UMW), businesses, and government officials.  The overarching goal of FiRST is “to promote, enable and extend STEM resources, activities, and opportunities within Virginia’s Planning District 16” (FiRST Website).

The evening started out with a chance to check out some student projects from around the area.  These students were so pumped to share their learning and experiences with STEM!

Student explaining a project to a teacher.

Student using a Zoomy camera to show a leaf up close.

Robotics demonstration.

The next part of the evening involved some fantastic speakers.  My personal favorite was Captain Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, USN.  She is such an inspiration for getting involved in STEM.  Captain Stefanyshyn-Piper has an incredibly long list of accomplishments – MIT Grad, Navy Deep Sea Salvage Diver, Astronaut and Division Commander for the Carderock Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center.  She shared her journey in STEM careers and how important her schooling was in her success.  The students in the crowd (and adults) were mesmerized with her experiences and got a chance to ask her some questions.

This event did a great job of bringing together the community to promote STEM.  The next steps are to figure out how we can harness that excitement and connect business leaders with schools to help fund and support STEM projects.

Here are a few links to resources shared at the event.

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VSTE 2011

I recently attended the Virginia Society for Technology in Education’s (VSTE) Annual Conference.  It was an amazing experience for so many reasons!  A few of the highlights, in no particular order:

  • Digital Sandbox – An area set up throughout the conference that served as a comfy place to hold conversations.  It was structured as an unconference within a conference.  I loved spending time here to Tweet Up with my fellow Twitter folk, talk education, be part of a DTLT Today show, attend an iPad Smackdown, discussion on Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), and recharging my laptop while sitting in a comfortable chair. 🙂

    iPad Smackdown

DTLT Today Broadcast

  • Bonding with my new team – The conference was a great opportunity to build deeper relationships with the other ITRTs that attended, as well as getting to know my director better.  We had a ton of great conversations about where we are in our county and where we want to go.  We were all excited to share what we learned with each other at the end of each day.

Two of the other rookies with Santa

  • #pinechat – So much fun to catch up/meet some #edurockstars in the Pine Room at the Hotel Roanoke.  Paula White, Becky Fisher, Corrie Kelly, Jen Orr, Tim Owens, and Chris Lehmann just to name a few #pinechatters.
  • Catching up with old friends – A group of my former colleagues and former principal attended VSTE.  It was awesome to see them to reconnect and reminisce about the school, teachers and students that I miss dearly.  Ferry Farm will always have a piece of my heart.
  • Keynote speakersChris Lehmann, Adam Bellow and Travis Allen gave passionate keynotes on how we need to change education.  Powerful, motivating speakers.  Lots of great ideas shared.

Chris Lehmann Keynote - School 2.0

  •  Excellent sessions
    • Saw my director present on TPACK.
    • Got to hear how Salem City Schools is using Google Apps for EDU (and completely got rid of Microsoft Office).
    • Making IT Click with Hybrid Learning Modules – learned how Stafford County is offering blended PD, online and face-to-face, for their teachers.
    • Tech for Tots with Jen Orr – lots of great ideas for integrating technology with the little ones.
    • Chris Lehmann’s session was in a unique format – he posed questions and we talked with different partners each time for 2 minutes each.  Allowed for lots of perspectives and ideas in a short period of time.  Not your typical sit-and-get.
    • Inspired by Henrico’s work with 21st century learning.
    • And many more…

I was extremely pleased with my first VSTE Conference experience; I’m so thankful I was able to attend after many years of wanting to go!