ISTE 2016 Coverage

Your Guide to STEM and STEAM at This Year's ISTE Conference

STEM is at the top of the menu for this year's International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference and exposition, taking place in Denver June 26-29. Three keynoters will hit the topics of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and arts (STEAM) from quite diverse directions.

Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku

Serving up first, Sunday, June 26, will be Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, best-selling author and star of TV specials and radio programs (and a Turbo Tax commercial) who knows how to explain string field theory so just about anybody can understand it. Kaku's latest book, The Future of the Mind, lays out the breakthroughs taking place in neuroscience. He's also been an outspoken critic of American education. ("The United States has the worst educational system known to science," he once said at a panel discussion.)

On Tuesday, June 28, Ruha Benjamin, a professor of African American studies at Princeton University, will address the question: How can we harness science and technology for greater equality? This isn't a new topic for Benjamin, who has taught and talked on subjects such as "Black to the Future: Science, Fiction and Society" and "Women in Technology: Playing the Game or Hacking the System."

Closing the conference on Wednesday is keynoter Michelle Cordy, elementary grade teacher and blogger ("Hack the Classroom") with a focus on math education and technology integration. Cordy will share her thoughts on how to teach differently to overcome obstacles in the classroom.

All three keynotes will be streamed and recorded for video-on-demand viewing by ISTE members.

If those aren't enough to sate your appetite, here are 20 additional session and product picks to fulfill your STEM and STEAM cravings.

ISTE Sessions

Monday, June 27, 8:30-9:30 a.m., CCC 504
Interactive lecture covering grades PK-12: "3D Printing Lesson Plans You Can Use in Your Classroom Right Now!"
The promise: Feeling like you're the last teacher in the country to try out 3D printing? You're not. This session will help you get up to speed with lesson plans for implementing 3D printing in class to encourage students to develop higher-level thinking and a design mindset.
Learn more here.

Monday, June 27, 2-4 p.m., CCC Lobby D, Table 37
Poster session covering grades PK-12: "Look in the Sky: Cross Curriculum Implementation of Drones"
The promise: If you've been looking for an excuse to add drones to your class activities, this team of presenters will share curriculum and lesson examples they've implemented in classrooms in New Jersey classrooms.
Learn more here.

Monday, June 27, 2-4 p.m., CCC Lobby D, Table 5
Poster session covering grades 9-12: "STEM + Girls + Stop Motion + Lego"
The promise: Students use Lego kits and stop motion to learn about chemical bonds. That includes writing a story script in which the protagonists are the valence and chemical bonding; then they use stop motion animation to produce a film to lays out how chemical bonding takes place. The presenters all come from the Instituto Alpes San Javier, an all-girls school in Mexico.
Learn more here.

Monday, June 27, 2-4 p.m., CCC Lobby D, Table 33
Poster session covering grades 6-8: "6th Grade Science Sky and Space Explorations with the Raspberry Pi"
The promise: You'll hear the details about how the sixth graders at the School at Columbia University built low-cost portable weather stations and participated in a high-altitude weather balloon challenge.
Learn more here.

Tuesday, June 28, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., CCC Lobby D, Table 8
Poster session covering grades PK-12: "Build STEAM Momentum at Your School through a Student-led Robotics STEAMfest"
The promise: Presenters from Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary in South Carolina share the details behind their fourth and fifth graders running an annual afternoon event to show off what they had learned in their robotics classes. The three-hour event is "entirely driven and planned by students" and facilitated by a couple of coaches to help with logistics, such as timing, location, equipment set-up and funding.
Learn more here.

Tuesday, June 28, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., CCC Lobby D, Table 22
Poster session covering grades 6-8: "Animatronic Teddy Bears: Using Arduino to Combat STEM Summer Learning Loss"
The promise: You'll learn about the design of a summer camp that introduced sixth graders to computer science through hands-on construction, using Arduino microcontrollers. Eight 90-minute sessions covered the differences between analog and digital, inputs and outputs, procedural thinking and how to apply lessons learned for creating interactive projects.
Learn more here.

Tuesday, June 28, 1:15-3:15 p.m., CCC Lobby D, Table 19
Poster session covering grades PK-5: "Exploring & Engaging Students through Problem Solving in Elementary School Math"
The promise: If your elementary students can solve procedural problems but can't translate their know-how to word problems, Christian Padgett will share his strategies.
Learn more here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2:15-3:15 p.m., CCC 401
Panel discussion covering grades PK-12: "Minecraft as a Vehicle for Learning: Placing Learners in the Driver's Seat"
The promise: Can't figure out how Minecraft and learning go together? This presentation with multiple participants will show you how the gaming environment can help you teach interdisciplinary skills in math, science, history and literature.
Learn more here.

Wednesday, June 29, 8:30-9:30 a.m., CCC 302
Presentation covering grades PK-12: "Girls & STEM: Making it Happen"
The promise: Sylvia Martinez, who runs (and wrote) Invent to Learn, shares research, examples and best practices to help you understand how to make STEM subjects attractive to girls in elementary and secondary grades.
Learn more here.

Wednesday, June 29, 1:15-2:15 p.m., CCC Mile High Ballroom 1D
Panel discussion covering grades PK-12: "Using Drones to Inspire Creativity and Promote Student Engagement"
The promise: A panel of educators from New Jersey lays out the argument for deploying these flying robots to help students learn math, science and technical skills for college and career readiness.
Learn more here.

Products and Services in the ISTE Expo Hall

Andamio Games, booth 1311
This company's goal is to create mobile games "that make hard subjects easier to learn." The first offering from Andamio (which is Spanish for "scaffold") is iNeuron, a free iPad game to teach neuroscience concepts through scaffolded lessons and learn-by-doing games.

Chibitronics, booth 1311
Teach students the basics of circuitry with this set of circuit stickers (no soldering required!). A classroom pack includes enough components for a class of 30 students to tackle multiple projects, including a do-it-yourself-switch, a blinking slide and a parallel circuit. (The company's website includes video lessons for each.)

Couragion, booth 1311
While there will be several STEM and STEAM career exploration organizations talking about their services in the ISTE expo hall, the new kid on the block is this Denver company, which was just chosen as an AT&T Aspire Accelerator to receive funding and start-up mentoring. Couragion will be showing its new app that exposes students to STEM careers using videos, games and self-reflection quizzes.

Ideation Systems Labify, booth 1311
A start-up that uses a flying pig as its mascot must dream big. We're not exactly sure what Labify is yet (its website is still a bit vague), but we know it involves students performing sensor-based interactive science experiments on their devices., booth 1311
This Florida company is all things maker -- and wants to help schools and libraries set up and run makerspaces. Founder Andrew Miller has written a free ebook on the topic (available with registration) that promises 250-plus resources for operating a fun and healthy makerspace.

CyberPatriot, booth 1447
This national education program is designed to spur students to consider STEM careers in cybersecurity and related disciplines. Learn more about the organization's competitions, cybercamps and school education programs.

Army Education Outreach Program, booth 2560
Once you've hit the CyberPatriot booth, head to this one to learn about eCYBERMISSION, a free online STEM competition for students in grades 6-9. Teams of students are instructed to ask questions, define problems, construct explanations and design solutions based on community problems. Sounds like STEM to us.

CrossBraining, booth 4033
This start-up is announcing an "Adventure Learning" program that offers lesson plans integrating Common Core standards that use GoPro's lightweight, $200 HERO Session camera as the primary classroom technology.

Ozobot, booth 4305
This California company makes "tiny robots" to help students learn coding. An education kit includes everything a teacher needs (including a teacher guide) to deploy 18 robots in the classroom that can follow custom color-coded tracks.

RoboTerra, booth 4316
This Silicon Valley company builds and sells kits of gear intended to serve as a "gateway" into the world of robotics for middle and high school students. Start with the "think" kit, then move to "sense," "act," "build" and "connect."

Have your own ISTE picks? Add them to the comments below.