Dr. Kate O’Hara on the CSU STEM conference this summer, presented with OSLN

This June 12th and 13th, we’ll join with Cleveland State University for Cleveland State University STEM Education Conference. To get the inside scoop on plans for the conference, we reached out to Dr. Kate O’Hara, one of the lead organizers.

Dr. O’Hara is an assistant professor of research for STEM Education in the College of Education and Human Services at Cleveland State University. She teaches Project Based Learning for the CSUTeach program which licenses secondary math and science majors.   As well, she supervises and coaches pre-service math teachers. Dr. O’Hara is also an integral part of the STEMM Education Center at CSU where she leads professional development in Project Based Learning and Engineering is Elementary.

What is the overall goal and structure of STEM Education Conference on June 12-13?

The goal of the conference is to unite K12 educators – to learn from one another, network, and collaborate around the method of Project Based Learning.  Our aim is to organize hands-on, interactive, STEM-related activities and ideas for teachers to take back to their K-4, 5-8, or 9-12 classrooms.

Tell us about the CSU STEMM Center’s involvement with this conference?

This is the twelfth year for the conference. The conference began in the Engineering department at Cleveland State University through the University Transportation Center. Next, it was a part of the Operation STEM grant, funded by the National Science Foundation.

The STEMM Education Center took over the planning in 2018.

In 2019,  we have funding from the Nordson Foundation and are collaborating with the Ohio STEM Learning Network to provide an even more robust conference.

Why are you partnering with OSLN?  

The STEMM Center at Cleveland State University acts as the Hub Coordinator of Northeast Ohio for the OSLN.  Through our bi-monthy meetings with all the Hub coordinators we share and update our goals and activities. Our conference fit into the same goals as OSLN for this summer – so we combined forces for a conference that not only reached Northeast Ohio, but served the entire state.

Who else plays a big role in the conference?

The Nordson Corporation is a critical sponsor. Their contribution to the STEMM Center allows us to serve more teachers with the conference. Nordon’s business includes technologies for managing adhesives, industrial coatings, sealants, paints, polymers, fluids and biomaterials. Its headquarters were opened in Westlake, Ohio in 1934. The Nordson Foundation supports communities through philanthropy, scholarships and employee volunteerism.

Who is the target audience for the conference?  

Teachers and administrators of K-12 schools. Especially those interested in reaching students through interactive, student-centered, activity-based teaching.

We believe transdisciplinary education through project-based learning. The best way to bring that kind of education to more students is to provide teachers with the tools they need.

What can they expect to learn?

They will collaborate and experience hands-on lessons in grade bands K-4, 5-8, or 9-12. We’re also building in time for educators to discuss their classroom situations and learn from one another what works or doesn’t.

Finally, there will be time to with fellow teachers interested in improving their lessons, upping their game, and seeing results.

My biggest hope is that each educator walks out re-energized to make changes in their classrooms.

What types of sessions do you have planned?

We have a diverse of sessions submitted from “Create Your Own VR Field Trips with Google” to “So Ohio has Computer Science standards. Now what?” We’re currently reviewing 33 sessions in total. Here’s a selection of titles that will give you an idea of what to expect:

  • Transform Bacteria to Glow
  • Engineering is Elementary: What is Technology?
  • So Ohio has Computer Science standards. Now what?
  • The Ranger Hub: So Much More Than Making
  • Picking Up STEAM with NASA BEST Engineering Design Challenge
  • Future City – a STEM-enriched PBL for middle school
  • “Cobotics” with Sphero Bots
  • Turning a Dirty STEM Hallway into a Makerspace
  • Coding with Raspberry Pi, Python and Drones
  • “Drive” Your Students Crazy! (with Coding and TI-Rover)
  • STEM Day: Bring STEM to ALL Students
  • NASA Glenn High School Capstones
  • Elementary STEM resources and lessons for grades K-5
  • Using relevant contexts to develop and deepen understanding of exponential functions
  • Project RISE (Research and Inquiry through Student Engagement): Increasing STEM Literate Citizenry for Underserved Students
  • Create Your Own VR Field Trips with Google
  • Build a Race Car Faster than a Pit Crew
  • A Whole New World: Digital Literacy with VR
  • Keep Them Engaged / Keep It Relevant
  • Eureka! Connecting Literature & Scientists for STEM Purposes
  • Launching into Problem Based Learning: Teaching social-emotional skills through literacy circles.
  • Extracting DNA from a piece of Banana
  • Phun Physics
  • A Hands On Overview of STEMcoding Project Resources

What have past participants said about the conference?

These three comments were some of my favorites from last year:

  • “Speakers with hands on projects used to facilitate and teach educators in ways that are applicable to many subjects and gradebands”
  • “That I have been coming for 3 years and the presenters and topics are never the same”
  • “Ample network time – wonderful to meet so many teachers like me!!”

How do people attend the conference? Are there other ways of participating?

We are accepting registrations for attendees through May 15. The registration site is here. Registration is just $30 and covers breakfast, lunch, and parking on both days.

We also have a few spots open for vendors, who can apply here.




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