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STEM Education Center moves Jan. 16-17 conference ...

STEM Education Center moves Jan. 16-17 conference venue to attract diverse audience

After 13 years, the Tennessee STEM Education Center at MTSU is introducing a major change to its annual Tennessee STEM Education Research Conference.

It is moving, by design, from MTSU and Murfreesboro and heading east to Cookeville, Tennessee, where the 14th annual event, set Thursday and Friday, Jan. 16-17, will be held at Tennessee Tech University in the Roaden University Center and Bell Hall.

MTSU’s Neal McClain, right, a director of the computer science lab in the James E. Walker Library, helps explain the “Augmented Reality to Improve Student STEM Success” research project to Ilana Horn, professor of mathematics education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, in February 2019 on Day 1 of the Tennessee STEM Education Center’s 13th annual research conference in the Student Union Building. Listening are McClain’s faculty and student partners in the project: professor Amy Phelps, left, Myranda Uselton and Levi Madden. The 2020 conference will be Jan. 16-17 at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tenn. (MTSU file photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU’s Neal McClain, right, director of the computer science lab in the James E. Walker Library, helps explain the “Augmented Reality to Improve Student STEM Success” research project to Ilana Horn, center right, professor of mathematics education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, in February 2019 at the Tennessee STEM Education Center’s 13th annual research conference in the Student Union Building. Listening are McClain’s faculty and student partners in the project: professor Amy Phelps, left, Myranda Uselton and Levi Madden. The 2020 conference will be Jan. 16-17 at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tenn. (MTSU file photo by Eric Sutton)

The 2020 conference, which also is being held about a month earlier than usual, brings together researchers and educators to discuss STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education studies and how they are applied to learning environments from kindergarten to graduate school. More information is available at the conference website.

Dr. Greg Rushton

Dr. Greg Rushton

“We’re really excited about expanding the opportunity for folks across Tennessee to have access to the Tennessee STEM Education Research Conference,” said Tennessee STEM Education Center Director Greg Rushton, adding that he anticipates switching future event locations on a regular basis.

Mandy Singleton, new outreach and events coordinator for the center, said officials want the event to be known as a “regionally recognized conference that will bring a more diverse audience.”

“We’re hoping the event can grow, moving around different locations to get different folks involved in the organization of the event so that it’s not considered an event only for those at MTSU,” Rushton added, praising Tennessee Tech professors Holly Anthony and Darek Potter for organizing this year’s event.

The director said the conference may return to MTSU in 2021, then move again.

Dr. Paula Lemons

Dr. Paula Lemons

Dr. Paula Lemons, a nationally recognized associate professor in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biochemistry and Biology, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s conference.

Lemons is director of the Scientists Engaged in Educational Research, or SEER, Center. It facilitates cutting-edge research in STEM education through a community of scientists from different colleges, departments and medical partnerships.

In 2019, Lemons was among the recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists of Engineers, the U.S. government’s top honor for scientists and engineers who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.

“We’re really excited to hear about her work but also about making our learning environments here in undergraduate education more equitable and inclusive,” Rushton said. “As we continue to diversify our student population, there will be likely more interest in these issues.

“We’ve always had a large proportion of first-generation students with challenges with making sure they have access to a quality education, so I think her contributions will be important,” he added.

For more information, call the Tennessee STEM Education Center at 615-904-8573.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Tennessee STEM Education Center first-year Director Greg Rushton, right, learns about a research project a student conducted that was presented Feb. 14 during the center’s 13th annual STEM conference in the Student Union Building. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Tennessee STEM Education Center Director Greg Rushton, center left, learns about a student’s research project in February 2019 during the center’s 13th annual STEM conference in the Student Union Building. (MTSU file photo by Eric Sutton)


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