Teachers from across the Shelby County school district gathered this week for an interactive and innovative day of STEAM learning at the first Shelby Merge technology conference.
The event was held July 30 at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center and was planned and hosted by the district’s technology department in conjunction with multiple contributing companies and vendors. According to Technology Coordinator Lauren Woolley, the conference earned its name from the merging of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. The day was designed to promote the integration of STEAM activities into classrooms as teachers challenge students with the digital literacy and computer science standards embedded into the curriculum they already teach.
Almost 200 teachers attended the event, where they had the opportunity to engage with a variety of STEAM devices and hear from other classroom teachers about STEAM activities they have implemented in their classrooms. Teachers who had participated in the district’s year-long STEM Academy led sessions where they shared strategies on successfully implementing the various technology into their classes across the curriculum and various grade spans.
Merge conference participants also got ideas for technology to use for maker spaces, learned about additional classroom resources, and saw the latest in flexible seating furniture. A digital playground and vendor expo area were also very popular with conference participants.
Teachers who attended said they were very excited to go back to their schools and implement what they had learned. Mary Gates, a teacher from Forest Oaks Elementary School said she found the information shared at the event to be very practical and useful.
” I am excited to implement STEAM in my classroom this year through the new knowledge gained from Merge,” she said.
“This really makes me think about how to connect mathematics to careers that utilize the mathematics contents, especially for females,” added Melanie Elliott from Chelsea Middle School.
Brad Acre, who also teaches at Chelsea Middle School, said he got great ideas on how to incorporate technology into his social studies curriculum like using ozobots for timelines and utilizing digital breakout games.
Larry Tew, a mathematics teacher at Calera High School said Merge was jam-packed with resources. “I can’t wait to see how this is unpacked at our school. Looking forward to trying some of these ideas this year,” he said.