STEM conference educates high school teachers

MacKenzie Keller, News Writer

In a weeklong conference from July 28-Aug. 2, almost 200 middle and high school teachers became students, advancing their coding and computer science skills. The conference, hosted at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids, was funded through a state MiSTEM advisory council grant.

The event was hosted by the West Shore Education Service District, while Grand Valley State University assisted in organizing the logistics of the event. 

GVSU’s connection to the event came through Kris Pachla, a university professor and a regional director for the state MiSTEM Network. 

Pachla said it made sense for GVSU to invest its time into events like this given the university’s strong focus in tech and computer science, along with supporting other schools as they strive to expand their students’ skill set.

“We’re excited to help envision the next phase of the computer science partnership across Michigan,” Pachla said. “We are thinking about how we are pipelining students, getting them skills beyond courses and preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow that don’t exist today.”

As a part of being invited to the event, teachers ensure that their school offers a computer science-based course. With technology-oriented fields rapidly growing, these courses will help their students succeed in our tech-focused world.

The STEM fields are a rapidly growing industry. There is a wide variety of careers involved in STEM; everything from accounting to video game design to artificial intelligence. When teachers gain the skills to teach their students about popular careers, the students have an advantage in the workplace. Many young children want to become video game designers, astronauts or even astronomers. STEM courses help these dreams get closer to reality.