The 2010 Huether Lasallian Conference opened today, November 18, at the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, OH. Focusing on STEM initiatives, the three-day annual event is designed to provide Lasallian educators with a wide-range of practical information for classroom use in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The event began with a pre-conference session that showcased new approaches to math and science education, including the effective integration of digital resources into teaching and learning. Participants tried out free high quality teaching and learning resources they can use through the National STEM Digital Library. Denise Jones, President at La Salle Catholic College Preparatory in Milwaukie, OR, was impressed with the depth of resources available. “I think it’s the call to make education relevant and dynamic and put concepts into real situations that will engage our learners,” she said.
In his keynote address at the opening celebration, Rev. George Coyne, SJ, president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, discussed understanding the relationship of science to religious faith. He encouraged participants to distinguish between science and faith, but dialogue. He said science does not conflict with religion and it can enrich faith.
Participants are looking forward to the learning opportunities at the conference. Jerry Evans, a chemistry and biology at La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, PA, is hoping to take away something useful from the breakout sessions. “I’m just looking to find something I can use and translate it into my classroom and if I pick up one thing then it will have been successful,” he said.
Maryann O’Neill, principal of Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, IL, hopes the conference will provide ideas on how to use Montini’s new SMART boards. “I’m looking for more ways to employ them in an interactive setting so that we’re not using them just as glorified white boards, that we really are bringing technology into the curriculum,” she said. “Using it to teach, not just to demonstrate.”
The breakout sessions on Friday will include a variety of topics such as engineering curriculum for high school and college students, recruiting and retaining science teachers, funding STEM programs, and helping students excel in these subjects. On the same day, a group of Cincinnati-based educators will share their expertise in hosting a science fair.
Aside from discovering new ways to incorporate STEM, Abigail Daane, a physics teacher at De La Salle High School in Concord, CA, values the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers. “The information that comes out of working with experienced teachers is priceless and ultimately helps prepare our future generation with the critical thinking skills and tools necessary to succeed,” she explained.
Other keynote presenters include Alex Cirillo, former vice president at 3M and Story Musgrave, retired NASA astronaut. A panel of alumni with successful careers in the fields of science and technology will also share their stories.