9th annual Indiana STEM Education Conference equips teachers

The ninth annual Indiana STEM Education Conference, “Advancing STEM with Students”, took place on Thursday, January 11, at Purdue University.

2024 Indiana STEM Education Conference: Advancing STEM with Students - January 11, 2024 at the Purdue Stewart Center

Over 560 K-12 STEM educators attended the conference which was organized by Purdue’s Center for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of STEM (CATALYST). Attendees came from across Indiana, including Fort Wayne, Evansville, Gary, Indianapolis, and Lafayette; and from outside Indiana, including Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas.

The conference also included premier sponsors 1st Maker Space, Amplify, GEMS@Purdue, Indiana STEM Ecosystem, LEGO Education, Purdue University College of Education, STEM Education Works, and TinkRworks.

The annual Indiana STEM Education Conference is tailored to the professional development needs of Indiana K-12 STEM teachers and administrators to share best practices, innovative instructional ideas, and current educational research in STEM education. It focuses on integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, which is a key topic in Indiana. Research has documented positive learning results for students from integrated STEM learning opportunities and many schools in Indiana are seeking to become STEM-Certified schools. Teachers also earned Professional Growth Points by attending.

This year the conference reached capacity on presentations, sponsors, and attendees,” said Bill Walker, assistant director of CATALYST Programs and Partnership. “We were excited that the conference provided networking and vital information on STEM education.”

Presenter Phil Cook standing on an auditorium stage. Behind him is a presentation titled "Curiosity, Sticky Learning & Social Media"
Chemistry teacher/social media sensation Phil Cook presented the keynote address (Photo/D. Starr)

The conference opened with a keynote presentation, “Curiosity, Sticky Learning & Social Media”, by Purdue alumnus Phil Cook (BS Chemistry Education ’00, MS Education ’13). Cook is a down-to-earth chemistry teacher at Culver Academies in Indianapolis who also happens to have millions of followers on social media through his @chemteacherphil social media channels.  An avid storyteller, he communicates a love for science through engaging chemical demonstrations and promotes scientific literacy within his chemistry classroom as well as to the millions viewing his content online. During his keynote Cook discussed how he fell in love with teaching and learning, the utility of STEM knowledge, and making learning stick with students by encouraging them to explore engaging STEM-related questions.

The conference also featured over 60 sessions where attendees could learn from fellow education professionals and the Purdue community. Titles of selected presentations included: Inspiring Elementary Students to Pursue STEAM Careers, Integrating CS in your K-8 classroom using Artificial Intelligence, Let There Be Light! A Simple Circuit Integrated STEM Design Challenge, and Empowering Girls to Pursue Their STEM Passion. Because of the quality of presentations and the large number of attendees, many of the presentations were packed with people standing in the back.

“It is inspiring to see the commitment of conference participants to enhancing STEM education in Indiana and to providing STEM instruction that will equip students with 21st century skills – preparing future generations to thrive in not only STEM-related businesses and industries, but also as global citizens,” Walker said.


The Center for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of STEM (CATALYST) is an interdisciplinary research-oriented center that is jointly sponsored by the College of Education and the College of Science.

Source: Bill Walker, wswalker@purdue.edu