4th Annual Delaware STEM Symposium & STEM Educator Awards Showcase the State’s Biggest Job Opportunities: Agriculture, Healthcare, & IT

by STEMconnector


The Fourth Annual STEM Symposium and STEM Educator Awards took place on May 2, 2018, in Dover, Delaware. For the first time, Delaware State University in Kent County hosted the program, making the event accessible to people statewide. The Symposium and Awards were generously supported by Ashland, DuPont, Christiana Care, Air Liquide, ILC Dover, Cengage Learning, DFSME, and Delaware State University.

Daniel Suchenski, Executive Director of the Delaware STEM Council, and Marsha’ Horton, the Dean of Education, Health and Public Policy at Delaware State University, welcomed the audience of over 250 educators, legislators, business representatives and college & high school students. The program is traditionally broken into two parts, the symposium, which deals with STEM topics, and the teacher awards.

An audience of over 250 students and representatives from business, education, nonprofits and government attended the May 2nd event. Photo by Ryan Gingo, AFTEM LLC.

This year, the symposium covered the three largest sources of employment and revenue in the state: Food and Agriculture, Health Care, and Information Technology. The symposium topics were introduced by Patrice Gilliam Johnson, former Secretary of Labor for Delaware and now the Dean of Graduate, Adult and Continuing Studies at Delaware State University. Dr. Gilliam Johnson commented how STEM is everywhere, involved in almost any job you can think of, and remarked that more needs to be done to draw women and minorities into STEM careers.

Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse moderated the Food and Agriculture Panel with panelists from Corteva Agriscience DowDuPont, Delaware State University and the University of Delaware. Panelists discussed the wide use of STEM in food and agriculture, and the vital role cutting edge STEM skills will play in our children’s lifetime if not our own. By 2050 the planet must produce food for between 9 and 10 billion people with reduced access to water, land and financial resources and must find green, sustainable methods. A STEM savvy workforce will make our break our ability to do so.

Area high-school students ask questions during the panel discussions. Photo by Ryan Gingo, AFTEM LLC.

The Health Care panel was moderated by Delaware Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services Kara Odom-Walker. Panelists from Beebe Medical Center, Delaware State University and the University of Delaware credited their early introduction to science and technology as a motivator and pathway to their success in these fields. Students attending the session had many questions for the panelists and all were engaged in a lively discussion about the different jobs in Health Care and education levels required to be eligible for those job.

The Computer Science and Information Technology Panel was moderated by Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins, of the Department of Technology and Information. Panelists from Christiana Care, Cyber StreetsDelaware State University, Dover Air Force Base, JPMorgan Chase, and Zip Code Wilmington stressed the diversity of backgrounds of people who become involved in Information Technology as well as the shortage of people with computer science and coding backgrounds to fill the many lucrative jobs that currently exist in Delaware and that will exist in the future. Introducing students early to the fun of computers, through in school and out of school programs is vital, as is making sure that girls are welcomed into these areas.

The STEM Educator Awards, sponsored by Ashland, celebrates teachers who have a significant impact on preparing students to pursue careers in STEM fields and develop strong STEM skills. The award recognizes teachers or teams of teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels that demonstrate STEM innovation and excellence through teaching, academic collaboration, and student engagement. Keynote speaker Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long spoke as a STEM advocate and educator.

Vito Consiglio, Vice President of Ashland’s Consumer Specialties, spoke of the inspiration of those teachers in his life who taught him the value of hard work and guided him in setting educational goals to prepare for his future.

We are excited to announce these six fantastic teachers as this year’s awardees:

Elementary School:

  • 1st Place – Cindy Isaacs, Georgetown Elementary, for the project “GET GET Girls.”
  • 2nd Place – Jacqueline Chesworth, Mt. Pleasant Elementary for the project “STEM Lab Design and Implementation.”
  • 3rd Place – Amanda Gaglione, Banneker Elementary for the project “Space the Final Frontier? Machines! Problem Solvers.”

Middle/High School:

  • 1st Place – Christopher Harris, Caesar Rodney High School, for the project “Architectural Drafting, Mechanical Drawing and Adaptive Devices.”
  • 2nd Place – Karen Ferrucci, William Penn High School, for the project, “Farm to School.”
  • 3rd Place – Peter Kelly, Brandywine Springs Middle School, for the project “Hydroponic Gardens.”

This post was submitted by the Delaware Foundation for Science & Mathematics Education