Center for Creative Energy

Reflecting on WebWise 2011: STEM in Education, Learning, and Research

Last month, March 9th -11th, I was fortunate to be able to attend the IMLS sponsored WebWise conference in Baltimore, Maryland. A signature initiative of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the WebWise Conference annually brings together representatives of museums, libraries, archives, systems science, education, and other fields to explore the many opportunities made possible by digital technologies. The focal topic this year was Science, Technology, Engineering + Math (STEM) in Education, Learning, and Research. I was amazed by the variety of projects related to STEM learning happening around the country.

Dr. Milton Chen's presentation at WebWise 2011

I particularly enjoyed hearing Dr. Milton Chen speak. Dr. Chen is the former executive director, now senior fellow, with the George Lucas Foundation and Edutopia. Dr. Chen reflected on President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This campaign includes not only efforts sponsored by the Federal Government but also those promoted by leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies. Libraries and museums are leading partners in this national effort, making significant contributions to both formal education and informal learning in the STEM disciplines. A significant trend in library- and museum-sponsored informal learning, especially in STEM-related fields, has been the support of social constructivist activities where youth learn through group investigation and creation. Dr. Chen also emphasized the the value of creativity and community involvement in STEM education.

Additionally, I found the session Friday morning to be very relevant to our work here at SAMFA. Speakers friday talked about STEM, Arts and Humanities: Intersections and Inspiration. Essentially, what  moderator Tom Scheinfeldt and panelists Chris Wildrick, Fred Gibbsand Michael Benson discussed was that years of Science and Technology Studies have exposed the STEM disciplines not as disembodied fonts on knowledge but as deeply social and cultural processes. Just as society at large is influenced by the insights and inventions of scientists and engineers, those insights and inventions are shaped by the influence of culture. In recent years, museum and library professionals and scienists alike have come to embrace the complex symbiotic relationship between science and culture to the benefit of both groups’ work. They highlighted examples of crossover projects that have brought librarians, museum professionals, humanists, artists, scientists, and engineers together to explore the productive tensions between science, technology, society, and culture.

If you would like to get the whole content experience, IMLS has a web archive of all the speakers that can be found at this link: WebWise 2011 archive

I strongly urge you to explore the content from this conference. There are brilliant minds and content that await you!


%d bloggers like this: