Workshops

Tell me about the STEM Education workshops

  • Workshops cover a cross-section of STEM subjects with an emphasis on lessons appropriate for students in grades 3-8.
  • Inspiration comes from you and is for you!  Workshop sessions are led by elementary and middle school teachers, STEM specialists, VMI faculty, and other college professors. 
  • Workshop sizes are limited and, therefore, available on a first-come, first-serve basis to registered attendees! 

When can I select my itinerary?

NOW! Workshop descriptions are up for your consideration. Register to request your itinerary. Registration is open.

AVAILABLE WORKSHOPS (Schedule Order)

See below for downloadable file and session by session listing of offerings with their descriptions.

2019 VMI STEM Education Conference Breakout Sessions Matrix

Click on the thumbnail below to enlarge and download the listing of breakout sessions featuring hands-on workshops or lesson planning ideas and best practices for 3-8th-grade teachers.

UPDATED AS OF 9/27/19

2019 STEM Breakout Sessions Matrix

 

Workshops by Day and Session

Invasives and Exotics, Grades 3-8

Max 15 participants
Instructor Name(s): Donna Haley, Environmental Education and Conservation, Blue Ridge Environmental Educators

Description: Learn about invasive and exotic plants, why they are here and why we should be concerned about them, and their impacts on the environment.

 


Incorporating the Desmos Calculator into One Note Notebooks, Grades 3-8

Max 54 participants
Instructor Name(s): Curtis Barker, Mathematics Department Chair, Waynesboro High School

Description: With the Commonwealth of Virginia’s plans to incorporate the online Desmos graphing calculator into the Standards of Learning tests and therefore curricula, teachers are looking at this tool and its incorporation into the classroom. This presentation will illustrate some examples utilizing the One Note Class Notebook providing teachers with some presentation features and students will some electronically manipulatable illustrations of mathematics and scientific concepts and principles.

 


Scratch Your Creative Itch: Digital Storytelling, Grades 3-5

Max 24 participants
Instructor Name(s): Liz Lynch, Elementary STEM Teacher, Martinsville City Schools, and Rebekah Gentry, Martinsville City Schools

Description: Do you want to give your students a voice and teach them coding skills at the same time? Scratch is an awesome resource for upper elementary students to create their own short animations. Presenters will provide 3rd grade aligned design briefs, storyboard templates, rubrics, and reflection sheets, as well as share student examples and tips from their experience implementing Scratch Digital Storytelling. Participants will have time to explore Scratch and will leave with the necessary resources to implement Scratch storytelling in their classroom.

 


Tackling Environmental Problems: Make it Real!, Grades 6-8

Max 22 participants
Instructor Name(s): Elise Sheffield, Education Director, Boxerwood Nature Center (Lexington, VA)

Description: Can you teach your curriculum and change the world at the same time? Yes you can. The rise of environment project-based learning (E-PBL) brings more opportunities to connect youth with real-world concerns. As educators, how can we structure these STEAM-rich opportunities to also help youth develop civic skills? This session is for teachers of any discipline curious how E-PBL can get it done. This practical session offers educators a simple overview of a typical E-PBL journey. It frames the journey as a three-stage process: identifying a problem, effecting a solution, and sharing the outcome. We will discuss the instructional value of each stage, supported with examples from local schools. We will also identify common tasks within each stage, and discuss how to maximize these tasks for teaching target content and skills. As aid to the journey, we will also introduce a set of E-PBL teaching tips and tools. Adapted from Earth Force, a national organization promoting youth environmental civic action, these tips and tools increase student voice and choice throughout the E-PBL process. We will introduce tools for democratic decision-making, cause-effect analysis, and stakeholder assessment. We will share hand-outs with participants as well as links to these free Earth Force online resources.

 


Creating Your Own Green Schoolyard, Grades 3-8

Max 50 participants
Instructor Name(s): Laurie Witt, STEM Teacher, Martinsville City Public Schools, and Krista Hodges, Dan River Basin Association

Description: Creating a Green Schoolyard is an innovative way to engage students in problem-based learning on an on-going basis. Today’s teachers can empower students to seek solutions to environmental problems they see in their world.

Students benefit from experiencing a real-world, integrated approach to STEM subjects. After studying animal life cycles, students at Albert Harris Elementary School planted a butterfly garden to attract pollinators to the school?s courtyard.

Collaborating with the Dan River Basin Association allowed the butterfly garden to grow into a Green Schoolyard project. Rain barrels were added to the courtyard to help students harvest rainwater. New plants were added to enhance the existing butterfly garden which helped to transform it into an official Monarch Waystation. The Monarch Waystation is a living, hands-on learning classroom. Students are able to witness the Monarch?s life cycle first hand. This year, students are working to incorporate composting into their school day by utilizing fruit and vegetable scraps. The compost will provide students a free, natural, rich fertilizer. The Green Schoolyard provides many opportunities for students to collect and track data which is meaningful to them. A weather station is also being created to provide students access to measure and chart weather data. Learning how to develop a Green Schoolyard provides teachers and schools the necessary information to get started with environmental education this school year.

 


Dream Big? Engineering the Future Infrastructure, Grades 6-8

Max 20 participants
Instructor Name(s): Matthew Swenty, Associate Professor, VMI and Anna Swenty, Lexington City Schools

Description: Engineering is one of the least understood professions, but one with a world of opportunity. To help show the possibilities of a career in engineering the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) produced the IMEX Film Dream Big. Included with this outreach program are a series of lesson plans, activities, and information on applications and careers in engineering. Come discover more about this learning tool. Learn about how the infrastructure has been engineered, look over sample lesson plans, and experience some laboratory experiments. In addition, information on careers in civil engineering relevant to middle and high school students will be provided. This is an active, hands-on exploration into the engineering field with many classroom-ready activities.

...from a weather satellite's perspective, Grades 3-8

15 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): John White, Meteorologist, DoD

Description: NOAA's new weather satellites' increased capabilities bring atmospheric motions alive in the classroom. Watch an 'exploding' CB or the valley fog overnight; observe the winds shift with the passage of a front...or the outflows from convection clear the skies. Or contrails fill the sky as the morning aviation rush hour departs Atlanta... The array of fascinating images -- all of which capture atmospheric processes as they're occurring -- beg for investigating what is happening. and why. The best part: the students will figure it out for themselves!

 


Digital Transformation in a 21st Century Classroom, Grades 3-8

54 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Scott Pleasants, Strategic Innovation Advisor/Professor, Innovate Lynchburg and Liberty University

Description: Technology empowers individuals, teams and entire organizations to communicate and collaborate. Office 365 for Education builds on this foundation and adds education-specific innovations like Teams, the OneNote Class Notebook, and Learning Tools, creating the most complete, intelligent and secure service for teaching and learning. It offers the broadest and deepest toolkit for content creation, personalized learning, and modern classroom collaboration.

 


Escaping the Boring Classroom, Grades 3-8

24 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Randi Metcalfe, Teacher, Clymore Elementary School

Description: Looking for ways to incorporate content material in a fun and engaging way? Have you ever wanted to create an Escape Classroom lesson but didn't know where to begin? Join me as you participate in an Escape Classroom and then learn how to create an Escape Classroom that skyrockets engagement! I will show you how to challenge your students as well as see them have fun and work cooperatively with other students.

 


STEAM for All Seasons, Grades 3-5

100 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Brittany Ballou, K-5 STEAM Teacher, Chesterfield County Public Schools, and Mindy Pastuszak, Henrico County Public Schools

Description: During our presentation teachers will be exposed to a multi-level approach that describes the availability of supplies. Each season incorporates various projects utilizing readily available supplies no matter how well-funded a program is. Tier 1 = recyclables Tier 2 = low-cost materials Tier 3 = technology We are focusing on seasonal STEAM to give teachers a starting point of how to easily incorporate STEAM into their classroom throughout the year while covering curriculum standards. The three STEAM projects for each season will cover a variety of grade levels as we explore projects that utilize materials available for any budget. Our session is designed for everyone from the novice STEAM teacher to the advanced teacher who wants to learn more. We will be introducing 3Doodler pens as the technology component. They will learn how to use the pens, tips for having students use them, and numerous lessons to incorporate the pens in their classroom. Participants will leave with a total of 12 design briefs.

 


Neuroscience of STEMgagement: Leveraging Learning Ecosystems, Grades 3-8

22 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Jessica Johnson, Curriculum Coordinator, Old Dominion University- VMASC

Description: Our digital native students today are constantly bombarded with information that requests their attention within the confines of a classroom. Frustratingly, most students will forget 90 percent of instructional content after just two days. Leveraging a student's natural interest in technology enhances retention and application of the material. It is critical for an educator to understand how the brain processes information, stores it and then applies the knowledge to instructional content. In this session, you will learn how to tap into the cognitive frameworks of your students using innovative advanced learning technologies (3D modeling, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc.) paired with problem-based learning/experiential learning paradigms. This workshop utilizes an example of a STEAM Learning Ecosystem to empower innovative, industry practices within the digital age. Learners employ collaborative, problem-solving and critical thinking skills to engage in a hands-on engineering design workshop in Digital Shipbuilding.

 


Turning on the Light: Strategies for Teaching Electricity, Grade 5

20 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Thomas Fitzpatrick, Supervisor of Science and Mathematics, Roanoke City Public Schools

Description: Learn how to teach electricity to fourth and fifth-grade students and physical science students using the new 2018 Science Standards. Learn how the content has changed in the new SOLs. We will use three approaches: modeling, circuits on the cheap, and snap circuits to teach the concepts. We will look at the connection with Computer Science standards. We will discuss several models for funding to get the needed supplies. Leave this workshop ready to teach this unit!

 


Full STEAM ahead with Picture Books, Grades 3-5

50 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Heather Russell, PreK-5 STEAM Resource Teacher, Chesterfield County Public Schools and Kim Rice, PreK-5 STEAM Resource Teacher, Chesterfield County Public Schools

Description: We would begin by introducing ourselves and our county's STEAM program. (5-8 minutes) -We will walk the participates through how to design their our own Literacy and Math focused STEAM lessons. (8- 10 minutes) -We will share 3 lessons that can be adapted to any grade level. (15 minutes) These will be given out as handouts for everyone to take home. -The fourth (last) lesson (Whole Bridge- Fraction STEAM lesson) will be modeled as if the participates were students in the classroom. They will be given a design challenge that must be completed in 25 minutes. The last 10 minutes we will test the bridges and reflect on the ones that worked and the ones that didn't. -The last part of the class we will do a raffle for the books we used in our lesson and answer any questions.

 

...from a weather satellite's perspective, Grades 3-8

15 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): John White, Meteorologist, DoD

Description: NOAA's new weather satellites' increased capabilities bring atmospheric motions alive in the classroom. Watch an 'exploding' CB or the valley fog overnight; observe the winds shift with the passage of a front...or the outflows from convection clear the skies. Or contrails fill the sky as the morning aviation rush hour departs Atlanta... The array of fascinating images -- all of which capture atmospheric processes as they're occurring -- beg for investigating what is happening. and why. The best part: the students will figure it out for themselves!

 


Digital Transformation in a 21st Century Classroom, Grades 3-8

54 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Scott Pleasants, Strategic Innovation Advisor/Professor, Innovate Lynchburg and Liberty University

Description: Technology empowers individuals, teams and entire organizations to communicate and collaborate. Office 365 for Education builds on this foundation and adds education-specific innovations like Teams, the OneNote Class Notebook, and Learning Tools, creating the most complete, intelligent and secure service for teaching and learning. It offers the broadest and deepest toolkit for content creation, personalized learning, and modern classroom collaboration.

 


Escaping the Boring Classroom, Grades 3-8

24 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Randi Metcalfe, Teacher, Clymore Elementary School

Description: Looking for ways to incorporate content material in a fun and engaging way? Have you ever wanted to create an Escape Classroom lesson but didn't know where to begin? Join me as you participate in an Escape Classroom and then learn how to create an Escape Classroom that skyrockets engagement! I will show you how to challenge your students as well as see them have fun and work cooperatively with other students.

 


STEAM for All Seasons, Grades 3-5

100 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Brittany Ballou, K-5 STEAM Teacher, Chesterfield County Public Schools, and Mindy Pastuszak, Henrico County Public Schools

Description: During our presentation teachers will be exposed to a multi-level approach that describes the availability of supplies. Each season incorporates various projects utilizing readily available supplies no matter how well-funded a program is. Tier 1 = recyclables Tier 2 = low-cost materials Tier 3 = technology We are focusing on seasonal STEAM to give teachers a starting point of how to easily incorporate STEAM into their classroom throughout the year while covering curriculum standards. The three STEAM projects for each season will cover a variety of grade levels as we explore projects that utilize materials available for any budget. Our session is designed for everyone from the novice STEAM teacher to the advanced teacher who wants to learn more. We will be introducing 3Doodler pens as the technology component. They will learn how to use the pens, tips for having students use them, and numerous lessons to incorporate the pens in their classroom. Participants will leave with a total of 12 design briefs.

 


Neuroscience of STEMgagement: Leveraging Learning Ecosystems, Grades 3-8

22 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Jessica Johnson, Curriculum Coordinator, Old Dominion University- VMASC

Description: Our digital native students today are constantly bombarded with information that requests their attention within the confines of a classroom. Frustratingly, most students will forget 90 percent of instructional content after just two days. Leveraging a student's natural interest in technology enhances retention and application of the material. It is critical for an educator to understand how the brain processes information, stores it and then applies the knowledge to instructional content. In this session, you will learn how to tap into the cognitive frameworks of your students using innovative advanced learning technologies (3D modeling, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc.) paired with problem-based learning/experiential learning paradigms. This workshop utilizes an example of a STEAM Learning Ecosystem to empower innovative, industry practices within the digital age. Learners employ collaborative, problem-solving and critical thinking skills to engage in a hands-on engineering design workshop in Digital Shipbuilding.

 


Turning on the Light: Strategies for Teaching Electricity, Grade 5

20 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Thomas Fitzpatrick, Supervisor of Science and Mathematics, Roanoke City Public Schools

Description: Learn how to teach electricity to fourth and fifth-grade students and physical science students using the new 2018 Science Standards. Learn how the content has changed in the new SOLs. We will use three approaches: modeling, circuits on the cheap, and snap circuits to teach the concepts. We will look at the connection with Computer Science standards. We will discuss several models for funding to get the needed supplies. Leave this workshop ready to teach this unit!

 


Full STEAM ahead with Picture Books, Grades 3-5

50 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Heather Russell, PreK-5 STEAM Resource Teacher, Chesterfield County Public Schools and Kim Rice, PreK-5 STEAM Resource Teacher, Chesterfield County Public Schools

Description: We would begin by introducing ourselves and our county's STEAM program. (5-8 minutes) -We will walk the participates through how to design their our own Literacy and Math focused STEAM lessons. (8- 10 minutes) -We will share 3 lessons that can be adapted to any grade level. (15 minutes) These will be given out as handouts for everyone to take home. -The fourth (last) lesson (Whole Bridge- Fraction STEAM lesson) will be modeled as if the participates were students in the classroom. They will be given a design challenge that must be completed in 25 minutes. The last 10 minutes we will test the bridges and reflect on the ones that worked and the ones that didn't. -The last part of the class we will do a raffle for the books we used in our lesson and answer any questions.

 

 

Treemendous Trees / Urban Forests, Grades 3-8

15 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Donna Haley, Environmental Education and Conservation, Blue Ridge Environmental Educators 

Description: An urban forest is a forest or a collection of trees that grow within a city, town or a suburb. In a wider sense, it may include any kind of woody plant vegetation growing in and around human settlements. In a narrower sense (also called forest park) it describes areas whose ecosystems are inherited from wilderness leftovers or remnants. We will explore important individual trees, globally and locally, and their importance.

 


A Kitchen in Every Classroom and a Garden at Every School, Grades 3-8

54 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Cindy Klevickis, Professor, James Madison University

Description: Students can develop an appreciation of healthy, local foods while they are learning interdisciplinary science, engineering, and social science concepts through experience in school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. This workshop will provide examples of science and social science concepts that can be covered through an exploration of local foods. Example projects include making butter or cheese, extracting essential oils from herbs, making biscuits from local flour and making InstaPot" apple butter.

 


Introduction to Physical Computing with Micro:bit, Grades 3-8

24 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Kevin Jarrett, Founder & Managing Principal, Firewalker Consulting

Description: Participants will get firsthand experience with this inexpensive ($15) but incredibly powerful and easy-to-use microprocessor that is taking K-12 education by storm. Easily programmable via any computer with internet access (and several different language platforms including block-based coding, Javascript and even Python), the Micro:bit's robust features (5x5 LED matrix; accelerometer; compass, magnetometer, and more) make it ideal for learning to code while creating meaningful and functional objects (when combined with simple found materials.)

 


Applying Inquiry and Citizen Science into the middle school, Grades 6-8

22 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Ronda Malcolm, 8th grade STEM Research and Science teacher, Botetourt County Public School

Description: In the following workshop participants will focus on applying Inquiry and Citizen Science into the middle school Science classroom to increase rigor, relevance, and forge deeper relationships with students, families, and community partners. We will discuss the art of weaving Inquiry & Experiential or, "Hands-On" learning into the middle school classroom with a key focus on student relationships, Citizen Science, and creating innovating partnerships not only with students and their families, but also outside agencies, and local businesses. Examples of how to incorporate inquiry, experiential learning, and citizen science into the classroom will be discussed and shown, and strategies will be given on how to engage students with relevant questions related to the state curriculum that also engages students in 21st-century learning and the 2018 VDOE portrait of a graduate. Looking at several of the 5 C's to create a citizen scientist inside and outside of the classroom will be discussed (such as civic responsibility, creative and critical thinking, and collaboration) to increase the rigor and relationship with students.

 


BEE BOT PALOOZA, Grades 3-5

20 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Tonya Coffey, ITRT, Augusta County Schools

Description: Come discover, learn, and play with BEE BOTs. In this session, you will learn about classroom applications and how to integrate the device into the curriculum; get tips, pre-made resources, and suggestions on classroom management and logistics from an educator using them; and enjoy time to explore strategies and come up with a specific classroom application for your class with peers and colleagues. Join me for a fun-filled opportunity exploring how BEE BOTs can be integrated into the classroom. This is a BYOD session, please bring a laptop with Chrome installed or a Chromebook.

 


How to Grow Mathematical MindsetsThrough Games, Grades 6-8

50 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Paula White, Academic Coach Advisor, Albemarle County Public Schools

Description: You've heard it before--"I'm  no good at math." or "I never could do math well." Maybe you've even said it yourself. But, really, there is no such thing as an automatically good-at-math person.  Even mathematicians--and even famous ones --work to solve the problems that engage them. It really is all about how you approach it, and your mindset --teaching math  "is, at its heart, about growth, innovation, creativity and the fulfillment of mathematical potential."  (Jo Boaler) In this session, we'll play games that improve mathematical mindsets and explore how to help your students change their fear of math to enjoyment.

Hot Air Balloon: Is it a STEM project?, Grades 6-8

15 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Mohamad Barbarji, CTE Dept Chair, West Point High School

Description: Lighter than air: In this activity, students work in teams to construct a hot air balloon out of tissue paper to demonstrate how a hot air balloon flies. They will develop a conceptual model to explain why the balloon rises when heated.

 


A Kitchen in Every Classroom and a Garden at Every School, Grades 3-8

54 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Cindy Klevickis, Professor, James Madison University

Description: Students can develop an appreciation of healthy, local foods while they are learning interdisciplinary science, engineering, and social science concepts through experience in school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. This workshop will provide examples of science and social science concepts that can be covered through an exploration of local foods. Example projects include making butter or cheese, extracting essential oils from herbs, making biscuits from local flour and making InstaPot" apple butter.

 


Introduction to Physical Computing with Micro:bit, Grades 3-8

24 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Kevin Jarrett, Founder & Managing Principal, Firewalker Consulting

Description: Participants will get firsthand experience with this inexpensive ($15) but incredibly powerful and easy-to-use microprocessor that is taking K-12 education by storm. Easily programmable via any computer with internet access (and several different language platforms including block-based coding, Javascript and even Python), the Micro:bit's robust features (5x5 LED matrix; accelerometer; compass, magnetometer, and more) make it ideal for learning to code while creating meaningful and functional objects (when combined with simple found materials.)

 


Tessellations: Mathematics of Escher and Honey Bees, Grades 6-8

12 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Blaine Patterson, Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics, Virginia Military Institute

Description: Artist M.C. Escher created several intriguing pieces using repeated shapes in the plane. How did he do it? Honeybees create a hexagonal pattern of honeycomb. Why not another shape? Bathroom floors are typically tiled using a repeated pattern. What all patterns are possible? In this session, we will discuss classroom activities where students can discover the mathematics behind tiles and tessellations.

 


BEE BOT PALOOZA, Grades 3-5

20 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Tonya Coffey, ITRT, Augusta County Schools

Description: Come discover, learn, and play with BEE BOTs. In this session, you will learn about classroom applications and how to integrate the device into the curriculum; get tips, pre-made resources, and suggestions on classroom management and logistics from an educator using them; and enjoy time to explore strategies and come up with a specific classroom application for your class with peers and colleagues. Join me for a fun-filled opportunity exploring how BEE BOTs can be integrated into the classroom. This is a BYOD session, please bring a laptop with Chrome installed or a Chromebook.

 


How to Grow Mathematical MindsetsThrough Games, Grades 3-5

50 max participants 
Instructor Name(s): Paula White, Academic Coach Advisor, Albemarle County Public Schools

Description: You've heard it before--"I'm  no good at math." or "I never could do math well." Maybe you've even said it yourself. But, really, there is no such thing as an automatically good-at-math person.  Even mathematicians--and even famous ones --work to solve the problems that engage them. It really is all about how you approach it, and your mindset --teaching math  "is, at its heart, about growth, innovation, creativity and the fulfillment of mathematical potential."  (Jo Boaler) In this session, we'll play games that improve mathematical mindsets and explore how to help your students change their fear of math to enjoyment.