Last Tuesday, August 4th was the 3rd annual STEM Summit, co-sponsored by Macmillan Education and Scientific American in order to bring together policy and business leaders with the education and research communities to discuss and work on the most critical issues facing education today. The hosts Mariette DiChristina and Susan Winslow did a beautiful job with the event, bringing in amazing speakers in order to talk about the most pressing topics in education today. This year, we debuted a space here in the Community to enable participants to continue the conversations started and for non-attendees to join the conversation.
The keynote Jo Handelsman, the Associate Director for Science for the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, left a deep impression with her talk on the insidiousness of implicit bias that impacts education, opportunities, and compensation. Of the many studies she delved into during her talk, there's one in particular that stands out in my mind. That when a resume is presented with identical credentials, a male was chosen for hire substantially more often than a female candidate; and a Caucasian-sounding name far more often than an ethnic-sounding name. The race or gender of the resume reviewer, however, showed little to no variation in these hiring decisions. That is, this implicit bias is something we all carry (e.g. female reviewers were just as likely to favor the male candidates as the male reviewers). And when asked to describe why they chose a particular candidate, the reviewers would find evidence within the resume to justify their decision, unaware of the biases they were subconsciously bringing to the table. While this is certainly a study that will get your blood boiling, there is hope. It has also been found that when reviewers agree upon very specific credentials (specific amount of education, specific experience) prior to the interviewing process, the effect of implicit bias was reduced substantially.
Dr. Colin Adams's talk on making math fun was an absolute joy. He's the author of How to Ace Calculus: The Streetwise Guide and many others, and I'll leave you with this video he created on how to survive the zombie apocalypse using calculus:
From Donna J. Nelson, who was the scientific advisor on Breaking Bad, I learned that absolutely pure meth would not, in fact, be blue. Walt simply needed a trademark. Who knew!
Russell Shilling ran a workshop delving into a 10-Year Vision for STEM Teaching and Learning. What big ideas could we introduce to revitalize STEM in the US? How could these policies be implemented? The need to change the view of STEM in media outlets came up often (how to encourage folk to look up to "STEMlebrities") as well as the need to redefine failure. Many believed that assessment was an integral and essential part of the education process, while others thought we were due for a vacation from assessment. Be sure to comment with your big ideas for STEM.
Emily Reid, Alice Steinglass, and Talia Milgrom-Elcott gave an amazing panel presentation on making coding accessible to all. To the issue of redefining failure, Alice remarked: "In coding, there is no such thing as failure. You're just not done yet." Of course, you can add to the conversation about redefining failure here: How do we rethink failure?
And lastly, I can't talk about the STEM Summit without mentioning the beautiful view: