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Connecting STEM Learning to the Community

Save the Date - Midwest Regional Robert Noyce Conference 2018: October 13-14, 2018

Noyce Conference: Connecting STEM Learning to the Community St. Louis Images Collage

Midwest Regional Robert Noyce Conference 2017

The Midwest Regional Robert Noyce Conference was held October 14-15, 2017 at the Hilton St. Louis Airport location.

Conference Objectives

  • Build on the partnerships and networking from the Noyce Conference grants of 2014 and 2015 to develop evidence-based learning communities among Noyce teachers.
  • Increase the personal and professional connections among Midwest Noyce project members and Noyce Scholars across the region.
  • Enhance the scholarship of teaching and learning among Noyce participants and scholars.

Midwest Noyce Conference Grant Proposal

Midwest Noyce Conference Grant Proposal Development Guidelines

Conference Speakers

Conference speakers included:

Dr. Sandra Richardson Dr. Sandra Richardson is a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the Division of Undergraduate Education in the Directorate of Education and Human Resources. Prior to her position at NSF, she served as an Associate Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science at Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA and previously held a joint faculty appointment in Department of Mathematics and Department of Teacher Education at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Dillard University, where she was a student in LS-LAMP during her sophomore, junior, and senior years. She later earned both a M.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Purdue University. She graduated from high school at the age of 15 and received her Ph.D. at the age of 23. Dr. Richardson discussed the status of the Robert Noyce Program and share the organization’s plans for the future.

Dr. Monica Medina Dr. Monica Medina is Clinical Associate Professor at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, in the School of Education. Her professional interests center on urban schools, specifically the damaging effects of poverty, that disadvantage, disenfranchised and dispossess students, their families, and the community. Instructional and curriculum innovation defines her teaching, service, and research through three distinct, but intersecting components: urban school transformation, democratic citizenship, and social justice. She has also worked extensively in the development of school and community relationships and the operations of full service community schools. She assisted in the reopening of the George Washington Community High School (GWCS), and the development of a full service community school. She teach her courses at the high school, which allows students, preservice teachers an opportunity to create genuine encounters among students, teachers, community leaders, and culturally diverse families. In 2012, Dr. Medina became a partner of The Midwest Center for University-Assisted Community Schools at IUPUI to provide technical assistance and training for school communities and universities throughout the Midwest in developing and enhancing collaborative engagement. At the conference, Dr. Medina presented an overview of innovative pedagogical strategies to introduce crosscutting concepts and disciplinary core ideas while incorporating neighborhood and community elements into STEM curriculum. (pdf)

Paul Martin Paul Martin is the Co-Director of the Center for Innovation in Informal STEM Learning, and prior was the Senior Vice President of Science Learning at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Over his career, he has led the development of museums into community-focused organizations that provide interactive and social opportunities for lifelong learning. He has worked with hundreds of museums, science centers, and cultural institutions in the United States and around the world to plan, build, and sustain facilities, exhibits, and programs. His work focuses on engaging the hearts, hands and minds of millions of people in exploring and finding relevance in our natural and cultural worlds. Recent projects have focused on race and human variation, our changing Earth, and making and tinkering. Martin serves on the executive leadership group of the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Net), a community of more than 600 museums, universities, and other learning-focused organizations across the United States. He has been an investigator for numerous federally funded initiatives, including the $42 million Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network funded by the National Science Foundation and the $14.5 million Space and Earth Informal Science Education project funded by NASA. Martin has held leadership positions with Museum Content Builders Inc., The Field Museum of Natural History, Jim Henson Productions, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Science Museum of Minnesota. He is an accomplished thinker, doer, speaker, and facilitator. He presented on projects that integrate STEM in afterschool initiatives and community partners. (pdf)

Dr. Kim S. Nguyen Dr. Kim S. Nguyen is the Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI of several National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) active awards, including five Noyce grants, two Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) awards and IUPUI Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (IPREP). She is the founding director for operations and had served the Urban Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (UCASE) at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) from 2006 through 2016. During her years of employment at IUPUI, Dr. Nguyen also served as Assistant Dean for Enrollment Management in the Purdue School of Science for 15 years. Dr. Nguyen earned her doctor of education degree from Indiana University and has worked in higher education administration at community college, private university and public research institution since 1976. Her areas of expertise include student recruitment and retention, STEM educational outreach, collaborative partnership cultivation and project management. Currently, Dr. Nguyen collaborates with Chicago State University and Argonne National Laboratory to establish a pilot center of excellence, the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence (LSMCE) that is funded by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Nguyen led the PI session at the conference.

Dr. Sharon Vestal Dr. Sharon Vestal is an Associate Professor at South Dakota State University, and the PI of a Phase II Noyce grant to continue funding the Rural Enhancement of Mathematics And Science Teachers (REMAST) program and to study the effectiveness of the program, going back to the Phase I grant. She is one of two mathematics faculty who teach the mathematics methods courses for pre-service teachers at South Dakota State University. Her research is focused on teacher retention and teacher professional development. She coordinates the South Dakota MTE-Partnership Team and is actively participating in the STRIDES Research Action Cluster of the MTE-Partnership. Dr. Vestal discussed using a professional learning community to retain STEM teachers during the PI Session.

Mr. Nicholas Witt Nicholas Witt has been teaching middle and high school mathematics for the past five years. Last year, he and his wife (another former Noyce Scholar) moved to Kalamazoo, MI with their now two year old daughter. In September of this year, his youngest daughter was brought into this world. He grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and completed his B.S. in Mathematics at Illinois State University. Before moving to Michigan, he and his wife both taught high school in Chicago Public Schools at Simeon Career Academy. Last school year, Nicholas taught 7th and 8th grade mathematics at Milwood Middle School in Kalamazoo, but he really missed working at the high school level and thus transferred within district to Kalamazoo Central High School. Some of his hobbies include traveling, running, playing with his daughters, relaxing with his wife, reading, and anything math related. (pdf 1, pdf 2, pdf 3)


For Connecting STEM Learning to the Community, attendees visited specific locations in the St. Louis area to develop curriculum that could later be applied in hometowns. Sites may include the St. Louis Arch, World Bird Sanctuary, Museum of Transportation, Forest Park, World Chess Hall of Fame, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Zoo, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Missouri Botanical Garden, Challenger Learning Center, Cathedral Basilica, Frank Lloyd Wright House, City Museum, and more!

A session for PI's was held on Sunday, led by Dr. Kim Nguyen. Dr. Sharon Vestal will discuss using a professional learning community to retain STEM teachers. Dr. Sandra Richardson will share Noyce program updates and answer questions on program changes, new solicitations, and project specific questions. Dr. Kim Nguyen will lead a discussion on project evaluation, evidence of project outcomes, and collective impacts.

Map of Site Visits in St. Louis for Noyce Conference
The site visits will occur in and around St. Louis.

Organizing Committee

Happy people with flowerConference organizers form a partnership across five Noyce projects at five institutions. The collaborating team comes from Illinois State University; Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis; University of Missouri, St. Louis; Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville; and Wheaton College.

  • Dr. Willy Hunter, Illinois State University (Chair) (pdf)
  • Dr. Charles Granger, University of Missouri, St. Louis
  • Dr. Jessica Krim, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Dr. Keith Miller, University of Missouri, St. Louis
  • Dr. Kim Nguyen, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
  • Dr. Laura Barwegen, Wheaton College
  • Dr. Monica Medina, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
  • Nicolle Von Der Heyde, University of Missouri, St. Louis

Midwest Noyce Projects Map

Midwest Noyce Projects Map


Email Dr. Willy Hunter at

2017-12-11T12:44:03.246-06:00 2017