X-STEM explored the many incarnations and benefits of experiential methods in STEM education, showcased some of the best programs, and created a community of experiential STEM advocates. The 2014 conference was kicked off by Les Stroud (Survivorman) who discussed the necessity of risk taking which allows for true learning. The following 2 days consisted of attendee STEM experiences which were pre-selected upon registration.
“Without encouragement to step outside my comfort zone I would not have attempted the experiences I chose. Sharing the experiences with a teacher from my building, meeting other educators and developing friendships helped me to participate in things I normally would not have chosen.” – Lois Sturch, Bryant Elementary – Moore, OK
“Xperience STEM 2014 was one of the most engaging and interactive educational conferences I have ever had the opportunity of attending. The concept of educators experiencing STEM in the real world made of an amazing experience and some of the most engaging networking and collaborative conversations I have had at an educational conference.” – Tony Allen, Lego Education
“XSci provides professional development to teachers like no other. Immersing teachers in such experiences increases their enthusiasm for the topics they teach to children…. and enthusiasm is contagious. Bringing such experiences back to our classrooms opens up so many doors for connecting curriculum to real world, authentic experiences and gives teachers a springboard for creating similar opportunities for their students.”– Kristy Gollakner, Gwinn, MI
The conference began with a opening from Les Stroud (aka Survivorman) and his inspirational stories as an educator. Les’ started the conference off by talking about the importance of experiential education, why it was so important to him growing up, and why it is continually important today.
To kick off the final day of speakers and hands on practice was Stephan Turnipseed, President Emeritus of Lego Education. His goal was to bring attendees back to the creative methods needed to apply the experiential STEM process with their students. Xperience STEM had 43 amazing speakers from IBM, Lego, Discovery Education, National Geographic, STEMx, iSTEM, University of Colorado, Smithsonian, and many more. A special thank you to the amazing group who traveled to Colorado to share their expertise in experiential and STEM education.
Working sessions using the ELVIS tool were also included in the final day in hopes of bridging the gap between teacher experience and the generation of extraordinary STEM experiences in the classroom. The ELVIS tool also provided educators with a way to measure and evaluate future STEM experiences they create in their classrooms.
“The most valuable part of this conference was meeting so many other like-minded people. It definitely gave me more confidence knowing that I am not the only one that is pushing for more experiential learning.” – Sarah Doxon, Children’s Museum of Denver
“The workshops were fabulous experiences, and many of the speakers were very inspiring. I feel energized and excited about teaching and learning!” – Pam Dominski, Portville Central School, Portville, NY
The XperienceSTEM conference was unique in many ways, but one area in particular was through technology. Conference attendees were given access to an online conference portal and Mobile App sponsored by Zerista in which they could access all agenda, session info, reach out to attendees, see bus and experience schedules, upload photos and collateral, and chat through various social media platforms. This allowed for a tighter cohort, and the results were amazing:
Through this portal and App, attendees were able to access and communicate directly with Speakers, STEM Coaches, Exhibitors and attending sponsors. The portal allowed for them to populate their schedules, request meetings with attendees and speakers and much more. The App and Portal are available for 6 months after the conference.
“The use of technology was amazing! It made the conference much more manageable, connected, and enjoyable. Having everything on my smart phone really made a difference in my experience! – Ewa Januszkiewicz, Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet, Bridgeport, CT
The portal could be accessed online or through any mobile device using the XSTEM app that was created. The App allowed attendees to access the portal utilizing all functionality with no need for WiFi. All evaluation tools were accessible through the app, speaker presentations could be uploaded, and participants could share their pictures online through the portal. The Portal allowed conference attendees to access any information on the fly – no printed out agendas were needed.
“Xperience STEM was an amazing learning and networking experience. I’ve met so many wonderful, talented, and positive people who’ve provided tremendous encouragement as I enter the field of education. I was challenged and rewarded in so many ways by being a STEM coach at this experience. I have not only made strides in professional development, but also in personal development. Working with XSci to help create this experience made me discover self-confidence I never knew I had!” – Katie Smith, CO
With an amazing supportive group we had so much positive feedback around Xperience STEM 2014, we had an enormous response to our survey – 102 surveys were completed within 3 days of conference completion almost 30%! We heard you, and appreciate your feedback. Here are some of the things we are considering based on your constructive comments: