STEAM Conference 2015: Reflections From Parents and Instructors

More than 1,000 participants attended Scientists for Tomorrow 5th Annual STEAM Conference at Northeastern University of Illinois campus on May 2, 2015. During the conference, more than 200 high school and middle school students taught science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics  hands-on workshops to their peers.

However, this conference wouldn’t have been possible without the involvement and participation of parents and instructors. Here’s a reflection of what their children and students are taking home after the conference.

“When I said there’s a conference where your children are going to be able to build something by themselves they said ‘We’re going and we’re also taking our families’. The process of having received training, talking with my own experience, communicating that voice and now having these families here it’s a total success. My hope is that the parents that aren’t as engaged will get engaged. It’s not just working on homework at home, they [parents] should also discover there are new horizons for them,” said 60-year-old Maricruz Guardado, Morton- 201 District Parents Program Coordinator.

“The teachers at Volta were very interested in bringing their students here, including the science olympians, just to see the whole conference and what’s going on because they’re interested in engineering, science and all the good things that STEAM provides. They wanted if it’s possible to actually be presenters next year. After this, they [students] will have a lot of exposure to the whole STEAM conference. They [students] have never had anyone take them to something like this,” said 27-year-old, Nahla Yafai, Volta Elementary School STEAM conference trip organizer.

“What I like about the program is that it gets kids interested on science and it gives them an insight that they don’t usually see in the classroom. It’s really inspiring for them as well as for myself. Usually in classrooms for experiments we don’t have enough supplies and materials so we don’t get to dwell deeper into what science is. But with the STEAM conference and with Scientists for Tomorrow we give them a lot of background and they get to see things they wouldn’t normally see in their science classroom. They look at science in a different light,” said Geri Catto, Duke Ellington and Ella Flygg Young instructor.

“I learned about the STEAM conference through Scientists for Tomorrow and I invited my kids and their families to come. The kids have been loving being taught by their peers. The main thing that the students are taking away are both creativity involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and also that there’s a whole community of people their age that are engaged in these types of projects. How fun can that be to get together with people their own age who are also interested in science and do creative problem solving on their own. It’s teaching them that they too can teach their peers and their friends about science,” said 26-year-old, Katie Spero, SfT instructor at Ravenswood Elementary School.

“We, as parents, have the opportunity to learn and develop as leaders and motivate other parents to participate for the good of our children’s education. As a presenter I take home the satisfaction of how so many parents were attentive while we were explaining the projects. They have the capacity, all the parents have the capacity of learning. We [parents] sometimes say ‘I can’t do this’ ,but it’s so simple. If all parents knew about it it would be another part of our children’s education. The parents’ involvement  is the best because it’s the base of our children’s education. Before I thought it was more complex, but it’s a game, science is game based,” said 46-year-old, Josefina Chavez, STEAM conference presenter and member of Frida Kahlo Community Organization Parents Program.