Our KDSL Global Fellow Tiffany Johnson recently attended the STEMCON conference in Chicago, Illinois. STEMCON is a platform for STEM educators and administrators from all around the nation to share their best practices. Below is a reflection on her experience as a first time participant.
Year after year, STEMCON is where all STEM educators want to be. Just to put things into perspective, STEMCON is like the Coachella for all things STEM. From the moment I walked in, I knew I was in the presence of greatness. Upon arrival, I noticed Dr. Carolyn Hayes, the former president of National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), sitting amongst several of her colleagues. I was instantly star-struck! After setting my obnoxiously large teacher bag down, I wasted no time to introduce myself to Dr. Hayes. Dr. Hayes has an energetic personality that is highly contagious and seeing a woman achieve the “Lifetime STEM Leadership” award was very inspirational. After breakfast & coffee, the stage was graced with the first female civilian Afghan-American pilot and the youngest female pilot to fly solo around the world in a single-engine aircraft, Shaesta Waiz. Ms. Waiz has an amazing story, and a unique purpose that motivates her in the work that she does.
After breakfast, there were numerous breakout sessions that I attended throughout the day, such as Innovative Ways to Sustain STEM Interest and Career Paths for Girls, Bringing the Outside In: Making an Ecosystem in a Bottle, and last but not least, How Hip-Hop Music and Culture can Bridge the STEM Gap for Underrepresented Populations. There was not enough time for me to attend all the sessions, but I did make connections with the presenters of the sessions I did not attend.
Being a person of color in STEM, I am constantly questioning myself about how do I influence students that look like me, to be like me. At STEMCON I was exposed to many different versions of what STEM looks like for different people. One of the sessions I attended talked about connecting STEM to the culture of Hip-Hop and broke down the science behind the movement. After getting the opportunity to bounce ideas off of the presenters, Darlyne de Haan and Damiso Josey, we agreed to continue the conversation even after the event and beyond!
I departed STEMCON feeling inspired, educated, connected, and supported which are all the reasons why I would recommend this conference to anyone in STEM.
P.S. – Among the many lessons I learned at STEMCON, one of the top lessons I learned was don’t be afraid to ask people for a picture! This is the only picture I have of myself at STEMCON. Thanks to the photographer.
Tiffany Johnson learning more about STEM.
Dr. Carolyn Hayes receiving the Lifetime STEM Leadership Award.
Shaesta Waiz, the first female civilian Afghan-American pilot and the youngest female pilot to fly solo around the world in a single-engine aircraft
To learn more about Tiffany visit https://kdslglobal.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/kdsl-global-fellows-2/ and STEMCON visit www.stemcon.net.