Notre Dame hosts 8th annual STEM education and research forum

Author: Shadia Ajam

After the first session, attendees had the opportunity to visit various booths that showcased advances in education technology
Attendees had the opportunity to visit various booths
that showcased advances in education technology.

This past Saturday (Jan. 31), the 8th annual Collaboration for Education Research Forum was held in the Jordan Hall of Science. This year’s forum focused on understanding, planning, and implementing best practices in STEM teaching and learning. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and research professionals came together with representatives from industry to participate in collaborative opportunities in teaching and learning. The conference consisted of small group discussions and a collaboration bazaar which allowed attendees to connect with other professionals.

The forum kicked off with an introduction to the concepts and literature behind best practices in teaching and learning and attendees gathered in smaller groups to collaborate and discuss the concepts. The group  was also introduced some of the newer local opportunities in the STEM field, such as ND-LEEF, the Notre Dame linked experimental ecosystem facility at St. Patrick's County Park, and the Michiana Science and Technology Center (MSTCi), an education-based organization in the Michiana region designed to nurture interest in STEM learning.

Beth Hawn who teaches fifth grade at Heritage Intermediate School in Middlebury, Ind. said, “Coming to this event on a Saturday in the middle of winter has often led to other opportunities, including spending a few weeks here on campus in the summer.”

After attending a previous forum, Hawn came back to Notre Dame for an environmental studies week geared towards teachers and was able to get involved with a graduate student’s research on groundwater. During the school year, the same graduate student visited Hawn’s classroom where her students were able to also participate in the research.

“You find out about activities that I wouldn’t normally have access to” said Ben Brubaker who teaches pre-engineering at Riley High School in South Bend.

Other activities planned for the attendees throughout the day included a “lightning brainstorm for STEM teaching interventions” and a presentation by representatives from Nanoscience Instruments Inc., who demonstrated the use of a desktop scanning electron microscope to close the forum.

Attendees earned a certificate for six professional growth points for K-12 teachers and administrators. The forum is organized annually by the Notre Dame QuarkNet Center and sponsored by the University of Notre Dame College of Science in collaboration with the College of Engineering, the Center for STEM Education and the Office of Public Affairs.