spacemanBy Jason Sheldrake, Assistant Executive Director, Sales, National Science Teachers Association

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“How do we connect the dots between a dream and reality? Education.”
—Mike Massimino, July 12, 2018

Former NASA astronaut and Spaceman author Mike Massimino kicked off the 2018 STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), with a presentation to a packed house of STEM educators in Philadelphia, PA, this July. Twitter was on fire, which was totally appropriate given that Massimino was the first person to tweet from space!

This set the tone for the forum—teachers are great collaborators, and the ones at this event were there to help each other make their dreams a reality. No small task, because implementing STEM is a pioneering venture for many. There is no specific roadmap to STEM, no curriculum that can be downloaded from Pinterest, not even an agreement one whether the acronym should be STEM, STEAM, or even STREAM.

What’s the magic that made this all come together and gave attendees a way to bring usable content and plans back to their schools and districts? The people of course! Just as astronauts would never get to space without strong backing, neither would our STEM programs reach such heights without strong support—hat tip to Penguin Random House for making it possible for us to hear from Mike Massimino.

Mike Massimino pix 5 credit JW and ME Hamner

Mike Massimino addresses attendees at the 2018 NSTA STEM Forum & Expo (Photo © Jennifer Williams and Mary Ellen Hamner)

Who else was there? All the big STEM groups supporting education—programming partners included the American Association of Chemistry Teachers, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, and STEMx.

Who had the most fun in Philly? Maybe the NSTA staff. Where else could we meet an astronaut, run the Rocky steps, swap stories with teachers from as far away as China and Dubai, compete for the title of best marshmallow catapult engineer, and learn how teachers are making new partnerships that will nurture the next generation of scientists? We can’t wait to do it all again next year in San Francisco!