STEM symposium highlights science and technology

  • Thursday, January 23, 2014

Staff photo by Derrek Asberry B.T. Martin from the state Department of Education discussed the Project Lead the Way initiative during the STEM symposium on Friday at Aiken Technical College.


Melissa Canas said she is excited local colleges and organizations are making a bigger push to promote science in the classrooms.

Canas was one of more than 100 teachers who attended the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – or STEM – Symposium on Friday at Aiken Technical College. The symposium provided teachers and STEM majors with opportunities to learn more about the STEM field and employment opportunities within the field.

Canas said the symposium is important because it highlights the significance of science in the classroom.

“With things such as standardized testing issues, science often takes a back burner in the classroom,” said Canas, a middle school teacher at Leavelle McCampbell Middle School. “So it’s great to learn about ways that we can get students excited about science and the entire STEM program.”

During a workshop session titled, “Building Partnerships from Middle School and Beyond,” teachers learned that the STEM program has one of the fastest projected employment growth rates over the next several years.

For teachers such as Trish Huffman from North Augusta Middle School, the trickle-down effect is learning to incorporate technology in the classrooms so students will be ready to enter into the technology field after getting their education.

“We’ve got to implement technology into our classrooms,” Huffman said. “It’s growing so fast so we have to learn to move with it and not just stand by and watch it pass.”

Other valuable workshops at the symposium included “Careers in STEM,” in which session leader Hermecender Walton, Dean of Health Sciences at Aiken Technical College, told teachers that STEM is one of many programs that contribute to careers in the health field.

“With health care, students have to have strong biology and math backgrounds to be successful,” Walton said. “So in reality, STEM is a component of many careers in the health field, and it’s important that we push that concept with our teachers and students.”

Other points the symposium highlighted include STEM summer camps, the Project Lead the Way initiative and the use of newer technology in schools.

Dr. Jacqueline Giorgi, Dean of Teaching and Learning Excellence at Aiken Tech, added that the symposium was part of a partnership with USC Aiken, Aiken County Public Schools and Bamberg 2 Public Schools.

“It’s great to have that sequence in education,” Giorgi said. “Having that collaborative effort at the grade school, college and employment levels all in one place is a great asset to our students in the local area. This group effort will prove to be beneficial when our students are ready to enter into their career fields.”

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard.

He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @ DerrekAsberry.

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