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2022 Chicago National Conference - Sessions




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Thursday, July 21
8:20 AM - 9:20 AM
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Ecological Justice: Why Education Is Our Best Defense

McCormick Place - Skyline W375d-e

From A Silent Spring, The Limits to Growth and Population Bomb of the 1960s and 70s to today’s planetary boundary science, overshoot, and creating a safe and just space for humanity, some would say that “the science is in” and that it is pretty gloomy. Additionally, now in the frenetic information age, humans are overwhelmingly aware of the multitude of crises we face as a species. Our collective mental health is tanking. Knowing our predicament is one thing, but knowing what to do about it is another. Education may be one of our most powerful tools. However, delivery, content, and reach are impaired by multiple factors including politics, economics, religion, and the numerous influences affecting everyone’s social construction of knowledge. This presentation will share examples from the fields of environmental, conservation, and humane education and then focus on the potential promise of comprehensive education for ecological justice.

About the Speaker
Sarah BexellSarah M. Bexell is clinical associate professor with the Graduate School of Social Work and Director of Humane Education with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, both at the University of Denver, Colorado. Sarah is also a faculty member teaching Animal Protection for the Institute for Humane Education at Antioch University New England and senior advisor to the Education Department of the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Pandas, China. She teaches and does research in the areas of ecological justice, humane education, and animal protection.


Sarah Bexell (University of Denver: Denver, CO)

Thursday, July 21
9:40 AM - 10:40 AM
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Learning with Chicago Youth about Environmental Justice

McCormick Place - W181b

While young people are often framed as apathetic towards science class, politics, and the environment, movements like #ClimateStrike demonstrate that quite the opposite is often true. Yet, teachers often do not know how to bring out this type of vigorous engagement in their classes. In this session, learn from students and teachers who have done place-based projects geared towards teaching chemistry, inspiring civic engagement, and working for environmental justice. Recognizing that taking on authentic problems in science class is difficult, the focus of this workshop will rely on honesty, humor, and reflection to learn from each other about how to overcome challenges from complex chemistry content to resistant student attitudes. Using short interactive role plays, this workshop will share lessons we have learned and engage participants in thinking through and acting out what this work looks like in their contexts. With students and teachers as co-facilitators, this workshop seeks to engage educators’ imaginations in bridging sophisticated science learning, student agency, and authentic community involvement.

Takeaways: Learn to navigate scenarios that can encourage or prevent students' overlapping critical engagement in science class and their communities around issues of environmental justice.


Alejandra Frausto Aceves (Northwestern University: Evanston, IL), Daniel Morales-Doyle (University of Illinois Chicago: Chicago, IL), Mindy Chappell (North-Grand High School: Chicago, IL), Tiffany Childress Price (Chicago Public Schools: Chicago, IL), Jasmine Jones (Louisiana State University: Baton Rouge, LA), Adilene Aguilera (George Washington High School: Chicago, IL)

Thursday, July 21
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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Environmental Justice Coalition: Including and Empowering Students in Civic Action

McCormick Place - W178a

This session will provide educators with a clear understanding of environmental justice and give them tools to integrate this topic into science classrooms and student-led initiatives. We will focus on the case study of the Sonoma County Environmental Justice Coalition. During the 2021-2022 school year, middle and high school teams from across Sonoma County were invited to sign up for a year-long learning and leadership development program hosted by the Sonoma County Office of Education. Student teams received training and mentorship around environmental justice throughout the year and created and implemented local action plans to address an environmental justice issue. Students had the opportunity to receive input and mentorship from professionals and share their actions and future plans with local leaders and industries at a culminating showcase. Participants will hear a brief overview of the structure of the coalition and will view testimonials from student members. Participants will receive tools to integrate environmental justice into their classrooms and resources to help student teams develop and implement environmental justice action plans. Finally, participants will work collaboratively to design next steps for scaling environmental justice in their classroom and beyond by using their local resources and networks.

Takeaways: Explore how to integrate environmental justice and civic engagement in science classrooms and programs.


Ryan Kurada (Sonoma County Office of Education: Santa Rosa, CA), Anna Babarinde (Sonoma County Office of Education: Santa Rosa, CA)

Thursday, July 21
2:20 PM - 3:20 PM
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Becoming AJEDIIs: Teaching and leading STEM education during a pandemic using chemistry and other eqSTrEAM ideas

McCormick Place - W178a

Building on workshops facilitated by Gholdy Muhammad during the 2020-2021 academic year, STEM teachers will explore how historically responsive literacy can be extended to science teaching and learning. The AJEDII Model considers how accessibility, justice, equity, diversity and identity shape pedagogy. Participants will review the framework, develop units aligned to current student learning standards, and explore resources developed by facilitators for a range of instructional modes and situations. When COVID-19 hit our schools, STEM educators took on the task of processing and fighting misinformation, teaching and training students, parents, colleagues and other adults in their community about a wide range of technical terms and implementing novel pedagogical technologies and techniques like never before. The imagined worlds of science fiction were being realized but the ending still has not been determined and has certainly not been predictable. Unfortunately, the pandemic that became most clear in 2020 was exacerbated by social problems that could no longer be ignored. Participants will leave the session with materials for designing instruction for virtual (asynchronous or synchronous) and face-to-face learning based on facilitators’ experiences.

Takeaways: STEM educators will apply Muhammad's (2020) historically responsive framework to secondary STEM education in learning design


Joy Barnes-Johnson (Princeton High School: Princeton, NJ), Shefali Mehta (Princeton High School: Princeton, NJ), Mridula Bajaj (Princeton Public Schools: Princeton, NJ)

Friday, July 22
3:40 PM - 4:40 PM
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Empower Students with the Sustainable Development Goals

McCormick Place - W183c

Are you looking to fuel student engagement, incorporate real-world problem solving, and build empathy through STEM? If so, please join us to learn how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, student-created learning centers and STEM-based contests promote learner ownership and innovative problem solving. Since the SDGs highlight global inequalities, learning about them builds awareness and develops empathy. This, in turn, encourages students to consider STEM-based solutions to create a more sustainable future that also reduces barriers for underrepresented populations. Our classroom-ready resources allow students to self-select an SDG, become experts about its impact on the global community, and create an informative, interactive learning center. This process increases student interest and engagement and develops leadership skills. As people participate in these student-created centers, they learn about the SDGs and consider positive solutions for each. Ultimately, learning center participants are encouraged to become SDG ambassadors who spread global awareness. In addition, we will share how a systems-based approach for STEM contest integration not only forges STEM pathways, incorporates science and engineering practices, and expands career awareness, but also creates future-ready citizens who are equipped with skills to increase prosperity within our global community.

Takeaways: Learn how the Sustainable Development Goals and the Engineering Design Process promote empathy, increase classroom participation, and spark innovative student-based solutions that reduce global barriers within underrepresented populations in order to create real-world change.


Elizabeth Kaleta (John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School: Aurora, IL), Debby Nelson (Rotolo Middle School: Batavia, IL)