HE STEM Conference Day 2 #STEMConf20

The Keynote on day 2 was Prof James Longhurst on the challenges and opportunities of embedding Education for Sustainable Development. I very much enjoyed this session as it simultaneously reassured me that I’m on the right lines with the work I’m doing in getting ESD into my teaching (example: using the right frameworks and descriptions) and also provided lots of food for thought. It’s a great time in the academic year for that because the Sustainable Chemistry module starts this afternoon and as I admitted in my own talk later, the content is dynamic based on what is important each year I teach. Plenty room for inclusion or shift in emphasis.

I then attended two workshops based around gamification of learning: an escape room challenge, and a Twine based storytelling experience. Both provided a lot more food for thought! I loved Chloe Agg’s approach to making maths tutorials more engaging and inspiring students to work hard by turning answers into padlock codes to get the box open. With the Twine session, I loved hearing about sustainability from the perspective of people teaching business (Soumyadeb Chowdhury, Sian Joel Edgar, Paul Devadoss). I loved the idea of turning a case study into a technologically enhanced ‘choose your own adventure’ activity and can think of a mini problem based learning session that I could convert.

I have to admit I started to get conferenced out from this point onwards. I missed a few of the lightening talks – a format I find simultaneously brilliant and terrible. I think I’d prefer those on the first day when minds are fresher. And then there were posters and the session in which I had to deliver my talk. I loved the second speaker in my session’s talk: Joe Berry (Birmingham) who talked on virtual field trips. Having just been asked if I have field trips in the sustainable chemistry module (no, not yet!) I could see that this technology could be used perhaps to enable virtual access to chemically relevant sites. Combine that with the escape room and story telling stuff and I think there’s an idea brewing!

Overall I enjoyed the conference and the venue was fantastic. Anywhere that has unlimited access to tea (and a good variety) will always be a hit with me. I also caught up with a few friends, but didn’t have time to catch up with everyone.

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