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AUTHOR: Bill Havice and Jerry Marshall
SOURCE: The Technology Teacher 68 no6 27-9 Mr 2009
COPYRIGHT: The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Permission to Republish granted on January 4th, 2009

    A three-day symposium titled, "The Anderson, Oconee, Pickens Symposium on Teaching and Learning STEM Standards for the 21[supst] Century," was held August 4-6, 2008 at the Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) Anderson, South Carolina campus. The symposium provided an opportunity to unite teachers and administrators from K-12, Clemson University, and Tri-County Technical College, in the Upstate of South Carolina, to collaborate and communicate at all levels of STEM education.

    One of the symposium goals was to develop ways to integrate technological literacy into the K-16 curricula -- promote ways of integrating technology and engineering that will encourage more local students to choose STEM careers. Another goal was to expand communication among groups vertically. Individually, STEM activities have been created and are successful; however, through collaboration much more can be accomplished.

    Emphasis was placed on ITEA's Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (ITEA, 2000/2002/2007). The symposium was designed to promote the improvement of STEM education for ALL students at ALL levels. Our hopes are to increase opportunities for meaningful consideration by all local citizens of STEM-related careers. It is our desire to help develop a skilled labor force for local manufacturing and related industries. The K-12 participants came as groups from local schools and went away with action plans to improve STEM education at their respective schools.

    In attendance were one hundred (100) elementary, middle school, high school, college, and university educators and administrators from the Upstate of South Carolina. There were 29 elementary school teachers/coordinators from eight elementary schools, 33 middle school teachers/coordinators from eight middle schools, twelve high school teachers/coordinators from four high schools, six faculty members/administrators from Tri-County Technical College, four faculty members/administrators from Clemson University, a coordinator from EDuLINK, a technical education leader from the South Carolina Department of Education, and the coordinator of the Pendleton Region Regional Education Center (REC) in attendance. The symposium was hosted by Clemson University and Tri-County Technical College. A grant received from AdvanceSC, an educational funding agency of Duke Energy, made this project possible.

    Colonel Patrick Forrester (U.S. Army, Retired), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) active astronaut, opened the symposium with a presentation titled The View from Space: STEM is Important. The rest of the symposium was guided by EbD(TM) experts Michael Daugherty, Professor of Technology Education, University of Arkansas, acted as the EbD(TM) facilitator. The content coaches were John Hansen, DTE, Professor of Technology, University of Texas at Tyler; Greg Kane, Connecticut State Supervisor for Technology Education; Dan Engstrom, DTE, Associate Professor in Technology Education, California University of Pennsylvania; Doug Wagner, Director of Adult, Career and Technical (ACT) Education in Manatee County, Florida; and Brad Dearing, STEM Teacher, University High School, Bloomington, Illinois.

    Like many teenagers in the 1970s, Patrick Forrester says he had no idea what he wanted to do after high school. "I had potential, but I was aimless and had no direction," he said. Now a famous NASA Astronaut and retired Army Colonel, Forrester says none of his success would have been possible had it not been for his preparation by his teachers along the way. "In 1975, I was a senior with no vision of the future. You have no idea what impact you have on your students. Empower them with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics knowledge and to careers that we can't even imagine now. You can empower kids for life in ways you never knew." Colonel Forrester has flown on two space shuttle missions -- he was a member of the Discovery Mission in 2001 and the STS-117 flown by Space Shuttle Atlantis last June. Colonel Forrester is a living example that a STEM career can change your life.

    The STEM symposium was a chance to unite educators from K-12, Clemson University, and Tri-County Technical College to collaborate and communicate at K-16 levels of STEM education. Groups of teachers from each school developed action plans and presented them to the participants. Guided by experts from EbD(TM), teachers crafted innovative and creative plans that incorporate STEM into projects carried out by students. The plans were quite original -- one elementary school partnered with a local business that donated bikes to create Bikes Beyond Borders (BAB). Teachers created a website and devised a manufacturing schedule that each grade at the elementary school would have a part in. For example, kindergartners would unpack and count the bicycle parts; the first and second graders would do simple assembly of the bikes; and the third graders would prepare the bikes for shipping overseas.

    Teachers were reenergized with their action plans and were determined to follow through with them. This was not just a check-off. Coaches guided participants through their thought process and offered suggestions. The symposium participants are dedicated to going back to their schools as teams and implementing their plans. These teachers will make a difference in the coming year by promoting the T&E of STEM. They are creative, and their hearts are in what they are doing.

    ITEA. (2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.