IgniteSTEM Brings Hands-On Learning to High Schools

Written by
Peter Chen '19
Dec. 8, 2016

On December 10, leaders from across the education community will convene at Princeton University for IgniteSTEMxPrinceton with the goal of igniting STEM education everywhere.

IgniteSTEM is a movement to make the “classroom of the future” a reality in high schools. The program brings administrators and educators together and empowers them to disrupt traditional STEM learning environments with cutting-edge, project-based innovation techniques used widely at the nation’s top universities. Building off a successful inaugural conference in New York City last year, IgniteSTEM is rapidly scaling and expanding; this year, the program is hosting multiple international conferences, the first of which is IgniteSTEMxPrinceton.

Through a series of daylong conferences, IgniteSTEM provides participating educators with skills and ideas through hands-on teaching methods centered around hackathons, maker spaces and design thinking. For the unacquainted, hackathons are marathon innovation competitions where participants learn, build, and share their creations in a short amount of time. A maker space is an environment that provides students with resources, such as 3D printers or woodshops, to design and create their own inventions. Lastly, design thinking is a structured, team-based approach to solving problems. All three are effective tools widely implemented in in college classrooms, and IgniteSTEM hopes to bring them to secondary education.

“This hands-on style of learning stuck out as very important to me,” said IgniteSTEM founder Max Greenwald ’17. “I wondered what would happen if we brought this learning style to the high school level, or all of K-12 education, by using this model of learning and applying it to whatever things students wanted to learn.” Greenwald emphasized that these strategies can be applied to all kinds of disciplines, such as History or English, not just STEM fields.

The upcoming IgniteSTEMxPrinceton will consist of several hands-on workshops designed to equip educators with tools that can be immediately implemented in the classroom. The Princeton conference also features an impressive lineup of keynote speakers from the education community, including:

  •  Jonathan Rochelle, Director of Product Management at Google Education
  •  Dan Leyzberg, PhD, lecturer in Princeton’s Computer Science Department
  •  Supriya Kotagal, Founder & Lead Curriculum Designer at Diya Collaboration
  •  Jennifer Latimer, Code.org Teacher of the Month.

 After the conference, each participant receives a “Hack-In-A-Box,” which contains resources to host a hackathon in their respective school. Get these resources for free today at hackinabox.io.

To learn more about IgniteSTEM and future conferences, visit ignitestem.org.

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