I was honored to be the Keynote Speaker for the 38th Annual Stepping Stones Conference in Birmingham, Alabama this past July for Early Childhood Educators hosted by the United Way of Central Alabama, Inc. I was elated a year ago when they contacted me to discuss my availability to be the keynote speaker for the STEM themed conference. The push to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in K-12 classrooms has been on the forefront of educational initiatives for years now. Within recent years, there has also been a great deal of discourse, research, and professional development that support the need to integrate STEM practices and content prior to entering kindergarten. Incorporating a STEM-enriched curriculum in the early childhood classroom makes perfect sense. Many early childhood teachers are already introducing young children to STEM content via block centers, building, tinkering, and more.
Generally speaking my keynotes are interactive, and what better way to introduce 250 early childhood educators to STEM practices and content via an interactive STEM-based keynote. After all we all learn best by actually experiencing what we are learning about. During the 1.5 hour interactive keynote teachers were introduced to the research supporting incorporating a STEM-enriched learning environment within their early childhood classrooms, as well as the 4Cs of STEM: Critical thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration. Teachers were also introduced to the Engineering Design Process through an engineering design challenge. It was exciting to see 250 educators getting excited about STEM practices and content as they conducted a variety of hands-on-minds-on STEM-based mini explorations. Lastly, teachers were introduced to children’s literature with STEM-based themes. As the keynote wrapped up, and the closing remarks were made it was evident that the attendees were excited about the possibilities a STEM-enriched learning environment may bring to their early childhood classrooms for the 2015-2016 school year. The United Way of Central Alabama was a great organization to work with, and I can see why Alabama’s Early Childhood Education programs have consistently been recognized as top in the region and U.S.A. Wishing all those I came to know during this conference a wonderful 2015-2016 school year, filled with meaningful learning experiences, that will create a life-long love of learning and STEM fields with the children in their care. To view the 38th Annual Stepping Stones Conference Brochure click here.
Keynote photos below, a video will be produced in the near future of the interactive STEM-based keynote as well.