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STEM Think Tank and Conference: Encouraging K-12 Teachers to Integrate STEM in the Classroom

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session


Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1086.1 - 23.1086.19

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Paper Authors


Stacy S Klein-Gardner Harpeth Hall School and Vanderbilt University

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Dr. Stacy Klein-Gardner took on the position of director of the Center for STEM Education in April 2011 just as the Center began. An engineer by training and in her ways of thinking, she received a B.S.E. in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering from Duke University in 1991. She then earned her M.S. from Drexel University in 1993 and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1996.
Dr. Klein-Gardner's career focuses on K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, particularly as it relates to increasing interest and participation by females. Dr. Klein-Gardner serves as the director of the Center for STEM Education for Girls at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, TN. Here she leads professional development opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for K-12 teachers and works to Identify and disseminate best practices from successful K12, university and corporate STEM programs for females. This Center also leads a program for rising 9th and 10th grade girls that integrates community service and engineering design in a global context.
Dr. Klein-Gardner continues to serve as an adjoint professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering, Teaching & Learning, and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt University where she partners with other universities in NSF-funded research to develop the Engineering Design Process Portfolio Scoring Rubric . She ran an NSF-funded programs such as Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) for nine years. She served as the Associate Dean for Outreach in the Vanderbilt School of Engineering from 2007-2010. She established the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) engineering pathway from K-12 with Race to the Top funding in 2010-2011 and is working with the state of Tennessee on potential adoption plans for the new Next Generation Science Standards.
Dr. Klein-Gardner is also active alumna of the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) and Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, where she serves on the Board of Visitors. In 2012 she received the Distinguished Service Award from Pratt. Dr. Klein-Gardner is also active in the American Society for Engineering Education, serving as the chair-elect of the 800+ member K12 division.

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Crystal Tricia Chukwurah Duke University

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Crystal Chukwurah is an undergraduate student at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. Chukwurah is a class of 2015 Biomedical Engineering major. She conducts research under the VaNTH Bioengineering Education Research Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (BER REU) at Vanderbilt University. Within the REU, Chukwurah works with the Director of the Center for STEM Education for Girls Dr. Stacy S. Klein-Gardner at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tenn. Chukwurah designs and implements assessments tools for Klein-Gardner’s 2012 STEM Summer Institute for Girls and STEM Think Tank and Conference.

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STEM Think Tank and Conference: Encouraging K-12 Teachers to Integrate STEM in the Classroom (research to practice)Few conferences set out to examine the impact they have on attendees and whether or notthey have met their goals and perhaps research questions beyond a simple satisfactionsurvey. This mixed-methods phenomenological study using surveys and interviewsexamined the influence of the STEM XXX Conference 2012 (TT&C), hosted by theCenter for XXX, on its attendees (i.e. K-12 teachers, K-12 administrators, universityfaculties, and industry). We set out to define how the TT&C influenced the attendees’professional connections, both in type and number, and how teachers’ experiences at theTT&C affected their future use of STEM integration in their classroom. Eighteenteachers participated in a pre-conference survey to establish baseline data, and fourteen ofthese teachers completed the post-conference survey. The pre-conference surveysaddressed attendees’ current professional connections and use of STEM integration. Thepost-conference surveys readdressed attendees’ thoughts on professional connections andSTEM integration, as well as their TT&C experience. We chose to follow up with sixteachers in interviews at the end of the TT&C to pursue some topics in more depth. Theseinterviews, which followed up on the attendees’ responses to pre-conference surveys,were categorized into subthemes related to professional connections and STEMintegration. The interviews were complimented by the data comparison of the pre andpost-conference surveys. Attendees increased their connections at the TT&C. Teachersthought of ways to utilize their new connections in their profession (such as teacher-industry and teacher-university collaborations), using these connections to help enactSTEM into their courses. Participants took STEM integration tools and ideas from theTT&C. Having attended the TT&C the participants were more confident in enactingSTEM into their classrooms and within their schools.

Klein-Gardner, S. S., & Chukwurah, C. T. (2013, June), STEM Think Tank and Conference: Encouraging K-12 Teachers to Integrate STEM in the Classroom Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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