STEM Matters -- Now More than Ever

(Image credit: Future)

Is STEM education important right now? Amid the chaos of the new school year -- distance learning, hybrid learning, in-person instruction -- is STEM still a top priority?

Yes, says Kanoe Namahoe, director of content for SmartBrief Education. “STEM skills are key to fixing the big, complicated problems we face right now -- closed schools, tense social environment, volatile economy,” Namahoe says. “STEM teaches students how to pick apart the thorny issues and come up with creative solutions to address them.”

Namahoe spoke with Tech & Learning about SmartBrief’s upcoming STEM Pathways Summit conference. 


Kanoe Namahoe (Image credit: Future)

What is the STEM Pathways Summit? 

SmartBrief Education STEM Pathways Summit is a free, one-day conference designed to explore ways educators can address the STEM skills gap and prepare students for careers in STEM fields. This year’s event will take place October 22, from noon to 4 p.m. ET, online. 

This virtual event is a first for the Summit, isn’t it? 

It is. Like most other conferences, we converted our in-person event to a virtual event and we’re very excited about it. We gave a lot of thought to whether or not -- and how -- we would do the summit. Would teachers even be thinking about STEM as they wrestled with managing the distance classroom? But as we spoke with readers and experts, the answer kept coming back over and over: Yes. 

STEM education matters -- more now than ever, we hear. These programs impart the skills students need to solve the world’s biggest problems. That sounds corny but frankly, it’s true.

So we made that our theme for this year: STEM education in a COVID-19 world. And we decided to take it virtual. The topics and sessions have all been handpicked to give a well-rounded programming experience. We have exceptional speakers and they will all be digging down into the pressing issues in STEM. 

How will this event differ now that it’s virtual? 

Bigger! Usually we limit attendance to this event to allow for more in-depth networking. But taking it online lets us add to our programming and open the virtual doors to allow more educators to join us. Best of all, we will still be able to provide networking opportunities through our event platform. There will be lots of ways to connect with other attendees and with speakers. 

Who will be speaking and what will attendees learn? 

I am most excited about this. Kicking off our event is Nadia Lopez, the founder of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, New York and CEO of The Lopez Effect. She is electric. She will be talking about entrepreneurship education and how schools can use this to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. This is not the usual school-to-prison pipeline conversation. Nadia brings unique, rich insight and practical experience to the table. Attendees will come away with actionable ideas they can use at their sites.

Next is our general session with two former STEM Summit presenters (and attendee favorites), Adrian Mims and Christian Anderson. Adrian is the national director of The Calculus Project and Christian is a professor in the department of teacher professional development at Morgan State University. They will be talking about how to help students who are disadvantaged see their potential and opportunities in math career fields. As with Nadia’s session, this is not the usual conversation about math and students who are at risk. This conversation goes beyond identifying the problem and cuts to solutions. 

And finally our breakout sessions. We’ve got something for everyone.

  • STEAM from the gridiron: The San Francisco 49ers STEAM Academy 
  • Nurture inquiry, active learning while teaching STEM remotely 
  • Building a successful high school esports program 
  • Entrepreneurship and training students for a new reality: Technovation 
  • Rural STEM learning: Taking STEM mobile 

Two tracks of breakouts, with sessions running concurrently. We will be recording all sessions so attendees will get to access sessions they were not able to attend live. 

Who should attend? 

Anyone involved in STEM and STEAM education. This event is designed for educators, policymakers and industry professionals working in K-20 STEM. If you are teaching STEM,  developing STEM programming or want to get into STEM, you should be at this event. This includes educators in career and technical education programs and college and career readiness professionals.

For more information and to register, click here 

Christine Weiser is the Content and Brand Director for Tech & Learning, and has been with the company since 2008. She has reported on education for most of her career, working at Scholastic and Gale Publishing before joining Tech & Learning. Christine is also an author and musician, and lives in Philadelphia with her husband and son.