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IUPUI Hosts Major Conference for STEM Teachers

Release Date: 
Oct 3 2012

For the fourth consecutive year, the Midwest Noyce Regional Conference hosted scholars in Indianapolis for a conference focused on preparing more math and science teachers in K-12 education as well as science, technology, engineering and math higher education faculty.

The Midwest Noyce Regional Conference tooks place place Thursday and Friday, Oct. 4 and 5, at the University Place Conference Center and Hotel on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. The conference host was the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education, or UCASE, at IUPUI, a joint project of the Indiana University School of Education at IUPUI, the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI, and the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.

Reflecting the current teaching and education policy environment, the conference was titled “Common Core, NGSS and Digital Learners: STEM Teaching at the Crossroads.” The title refers to the initiative toward a “common core” curriculum across states and the similar “Next Generation Science Standards,” or NGSS, that seeks commonality in science teaching standards.

“The most important factor in ensuring educational excellence is great teachers who have both deep content knowledge in the subjects and mastery of the pedagogical skills required to teach the subjects well,” said Kim Nguyen, operations director for UCASE. “Effective teachers would enable, engage and empower learners who, in response to such teaching, acquire much deeper learning of the subjects. Conference participants had the opportunity to learn about the expectations of today’s students for more socially based, project based and digitally rich learning environments.”

The National Science Foundation administers the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program and is funding the Indianapolis conference. Noyce Scholarships support graduate degrees for prospective science and mathematics teachers who may be undergraduates in STEM disciplines or STEM professionals making a career change. Noyce Scholarship recipients commit to teaching in a high-poverty school after earning a degree or certification.

The conference hosts Noyce program participants for two days of professional development surrounding best practices in teaching across the STEM disciplines. Presenters and participants are traveling from as far away as northern California and Vermont to attend the session. Sessions focus on such matters as assessing teaching and learning, applying the new common core standards to course content and combining disciplines such as teaching literacy through science.

Annela Teemant, associate professor of second language education at the IU School of Education at IUPUI, presented a session titled “Tailoring STEM Instruction for Diverse Learners.”

“We need radical shifts, not minor tweaks, in our thinking about best practices if we are going to create the types of classroom cultures that respect and empower low-income, multilingual and multicultural students,” Teemant said about her session. “We know what matters most, but teachers need ongoing professional development that supports this type of radical change.”

Other sessions included an opening keynote from the National Science Foundation’s Joan Prival, speaking about the accomplishments and work ahead for the Noyce Scholarship program. Dave Dimmett, senior vice president and chief of staff of Project Lead the Way, a provider of STEM education curricular programs for middle and high school students, closed the proceedings Friday with an address about the work his organization is doing. Dimmett is a graduate of the IU School of Education, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1993 and a Master of Science in 2000, and sits on the school’s alumni board of directors.

The Noyce Scholarship program first began at IUPUI in 2005, funding the Transition to Teaching program for math and science teachers coming from another career. A Noyce Scholars program focused on undergraduate science majors began in 2007, followed by a new math and science Transition to Teaching program in 2009.