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UI-Micron Idaho STEM Innovations Conferences

Highlighting Successful Educational Programs and Partnerships 

This free conference sponsored by University of Idaho and Micron Foundation provided resources about a variety of successful programs and partnerships around Idaho that directly impact STEM education. The format included speakers, concurrent presentation sessions, table displays, meals, and time for idea sharing. The evening reception at the Discovery Center of Idaho featured special guest Dr. Ed Penhoet, a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Additionally, there was plenty of time to explore the new “Fizzyology” exhibit and check out the amazing Micron STEM Bus while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and collegial conversations.

2015 Conference Information

Materials from the following presentations are available on the links provided below. Note all materials are provided by the presenters and most are not a part of the UI-Micron STEM Education Research Initiative. Presentation schedule and abstracts are available in the conference program.

Evening keynote speaker: Ed Penhoet, member of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology at Discover Center of Idaho

Session I

North Star:

Degree Programs in Idaho that Prepare Students for High Demand STEM Careers

Amy Moll, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Dean of the College of Engineering, Boise State University
Larry Stauffer, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Dean of the College of Engineering, University of Idaho

Session II
10:30-11:30 a.m.


MAKING + Libraries = STEMtastic!

Erica Compton, Project Coordinator, Idaho Commission for Libraries

Session III
11:30 a.m. - Noon


Future City: THE FREE Middle School Project Based STEM Program for EVERYONE

Lynn Olson, Idaho Regional Future City Coordinator
Melyssa Ferro, Earth, Life and Advanced Science Teacher, Syringa Middle School, Caldwell
Karissa Hardy, Idaho Regional Future City Steering Committee Member and Engineer Mentor, Lake Hazel Middle School
Students: Maddison Grunig, Elliot Hardy, Andrew Keller, Kylie Laurandeau, Yohan Lim, Nikki Taylor, and Amanda Walker


Collaborative Initiatives to Address STEM Careers in Manufacturing in North Central Idaho

Raymond Dixon, Assistant Professor of Engineering and Technology Education, University of Idaho
Christine Frei, Executive Director, Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA)

Session IV
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.


The Confluence Project: Project-Based Watershed Science

Audrey Squires, Program Coordinator, The Confluence Project (TCP) 
Cindy Rust, Teacher, Post Falls High School
Rusti Kreider, Teacher, St. Maries High School

Session V
3:00 - 3:30 p.m.


Exploring Intersections: A Unique, New Partnership-in-Progress

Kristine Barney, Executive Director, Discovery Center of Idaho 
Jim Fredricksen, Associate Professor of English Education and Co-Director of the Boise State Writing Project, Boise State University

Session VI
3:45 - 4:15 p.m.


The Boise WaterShed: A Community Collaboration Project

Jan Smith, Master Teacher for IDoTeach, Boise State
Cindy Busche, Environmental Education Coordinator, Boise WaterShed Education Center 
Eian Harm, Research and Special Projects Coordinator, West Ada School District

Session VII
4:15 - 4:45 p.m.


IDLA is More than Courses

Julie Best, Idaho Digital Learning

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Riverside Hotel
2900 Chinden Boulevard
Boise, Idaho 83714

Check-in begun at 7:30 a.m.

Discovery Center of Idaho concluded at 8:00 p.m.

2014 Conference Information

Materials from the following presentations are available on the links provided below. Note all materials are provided by the presenters and most are not a part of the UI-Micron STEM Education Research Initiative.

From Wednesday, May 28:

Melinda Hamilton, Director of STEM Education, University of Idaho

Donna Milgram, Executive Director of the National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science (IWITTS)

Margie Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs and David Estrada, Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering, Boise State University

Sara Scudder, Administrator for the Idaho Career Information System

Linda Rosen, Chief Executive Officer of Change the Equation

Poster Break:

Jacqueline Maximillian, Environmental Science and Water Resources, University of Idaho; Ani-Alcocer Arreguin, Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Idaho
Latino Culture — Added Challenges (Delamar Room)

S Kirsten LaPaglia, STEM Access Upward Bound, University of Idaho; Janel Kerr, State of Idaho, Division of Professional Technical Education; John Anderson, Virtual Technology and Design, University of Idaho
STEM Career Awareness – The Disconnect (Cinnabar Room)

Louis S. Nadelson, Education, Boise State University; Janine Rush-Byers, Micron Foundation; Dee Mooney; Micron Foundation

Julie Amador, Curriculum & Instruction, University of Idaho
Parental Influence - How to Help? (Liberty Room)

From Thursday, May 29:

Boise State Theater Arts in conjunction with an interdisciplinary team

Amy Moll, Dean of the College of Engineering, Boise State University
Closing the Gender Gap in STEM Fields (Clearwater Room)

Julie Amador, Curriculum & Instruction, University of Idaho; Terence Soule, Computer Science, University of Idaho

Jessica Sotelo, Executive Director, Partners for Prosperity; Chris Guthrie, Workforce Development Specialist, Partners for Prosperity
STEM Career Awareness — The Disconnect (Cinnabar Room)

Robert Gordon, Sr Exec Distribution Network Development, Hitachi High Tech America; Mike Toalson, Western Analytical Solutions, LLC, representative for Hitachi
STEM Career Awareness — The Disconnect (Delamar Room)

May 28-29, 2014

The Riverside Hotel
2900 Chinden Boulevard
Boise, Idaho 83714

The University of Idaho is engaging in exciting research aimed at understanding the complex cultural dimensions that shape STEM education outcomes in Idaho. Through focus groups, a statewide survey, and targeted surveys of parents, teachers and students in Idaho, we have begun to develop a better understanding of the factors that may influence our students’ decisions regarding STEM education and career pathways.

As you may know, Idaho is large geographically, with many small rural communities. Socio-economic environments vary greatly between geographic regions in the state. This climate leads to some unique challenges when developing and implementing educational interventions. It is our expectation that this research will help inform decision makers, educators, and community members that are investing in STEM education programs so that Idaho can see an impact. We, of course, recognize that in addition to learning from this research, we will advance our goals more efficiently if we also learn from the efforts of others and best practices in STEM education.

We have identified four themes around which the conference will be organized. These themes are based on evidence from our research that suggest these may be barriers to improving STEM education in Idaho. We invite presentations that address the four topic areas below. Presentations should describe the program or initiative, what the goals are and how impact or progress is being assessed. Best practices and/or lessons learned for implementation and increased impact are requested.

Closing the Gender Gap in STEM Fields

The gender gap in STEM education has received much attention nationally and consensus is that girls are not pursuing STEM fields at the same rate as boys. Evidence from our research demonstrates that Idaho faces the same dilemma. In order to close the gap it is critical to understand precisely when this gap begins and why. Idaho students who had positive experiences with math and science show declining interest and more negative attitudes as they progress in grade level. While 92% of 4th grade students we surveyed said they liked science, by 10th grade the number dropped to 67%. When asked if they thought they would like to be a scientist, the numbers were even more disturbing, with only 40% of 4th graders responding positively and dropping to only 22% by 10th grade. When asked about interest in math and science careers, the trend was the same but the positive response rates stated were even lower before trending downward. When we evaluate the responses by gender, we find that both boys’ and girls’ responses follow this trend, but the rate of decline is driven by the drop in interest expressed by the girls. How do we keep girls engaged as they enter junior high and high school? Is it possible to re-engage these students once their interest shifts away from STEM?

We invite presentations that describe projects or initiatives with the goal of engaging girls in science and math (especially at critical ages) and increasing their interest and pursuit of STEM careers.

Latino Culture — Added Challenges

The Hispanic population comprises approximately 14% of Idaho’s population. Hispanic enrollment growth is outpacing non-Hispanic growth in Idaho’s public schools, colleges and universities. Our research demonstrated that many Hispanic students have high aspirations for completing a postsecondary degree; however, Hispanic students do not perform as well as non-Hispanics on state achievement tests, especially in science. Attitudes and experiences with STEM of Idaho’s Hispanic youth may be factors. While 7th grade Hispanic students surveyed responded similarly to their non-Hispanic peers regarding interest and experiences in science and math, by 10th grade Hispanic students; were less likely to say they like math and science; were more likely to say math is harder for them than for other students; were less comfortable asking questions in class; were less likely to say they could get extra help in math or science outside of class time; and were less likely to feel they could get help with homework at home. Many possible cultural and socio-economic factors may contribute to these attitudes. In Idaho, 45% of the adult Hispanic population has no high school diploma, and 25% have no more than a high school diploma, GED or alternative. In some areas of Idaho, such as Jerome County, the Hispanic population is as high as 40%. Many in those communities work for local dairy and agricultural farms and may live at or below the poverty level. How can Hispanic students who have aspirations receive support to pursue a postsecondary degree, particularly in STEM disciplines? 

We invite presentations that describe projects or initiatives that are addressing the unique challenges of introducing and enhancing STEM experiences for Hispanic youth.

STEM Career Awareness — the Disconnect

Although the evidence demonstrates a decline in interest in STEM with progression through secondary school, there were some disturbing inconsistencies in our research. Students who continued to express interest in math and/or science and who felt confident in their abilities did not express interest in jobs that utilize math or science. Forty seven percent (47%) of tenth grade students responded that a job that earned a lot of money was important and 27% said that a job that was really physical was important. At the same time only 25% want a job that uses a lot of math and 22% say they want a job that uses a lot of science. This disconnect seems to be a lack of understanding of what careers actually do use math and science. When asked what an ideal career choice would be, responses for engineer, medicine, nurse, and biologist were frequent. While such careers require post-secondary education, when 10th graders were asked about college preparation, over half responded that they did not know how to apply for college and over 70% did not know how to apply for financial aid. 

We invite presentations that describe projects or initiatives that raise students’ awareness of STEM career options and preparation required and generate interest in STEM fields.

Parental Influence How to help?

Over 50% of parents responding to the survey, male and female, have earned a high school diploma or less. The educational attainment of students’ parents appears to impact students’ learning experiences and aspirations. For instance, 36% of students whose female parents had a four-year, graduate, or professional degree said they wanted to be a scientist. Further, parents who had not attended college indicated they wished they had more time to be involved in their child’s education.
No matter the level of a particular parent’s educational attainment, the vast majority of all parents (89% or more) would like to see their children earn a four-year degree or a graduate/professional degree. However, fifty-eight percent of 7th and 10th graders’ parents said their own math and science knowledge interfered with their abilities to help their child with math and science homework yet almost all parents felt it was essential that students have basic math and science skills. Further, these parents expressed uncertainty about how to help their child select classes to prepare for college, how to apply for college and how to apply for financial aid. How can we help parents feel confident about supporting their children’s educational pursuits? 

We invite presentations that describe projects or initiatives with the goal of engaging parents in science and math and helping parents guide their children with math and science homework and in educational and career choices.


Director of STEM Education

Physical Address:

Office: Shoup 310
Phone: 208-885-7803