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First STEM2010 a success

About 1,200 people, mostly educational professionals, from around the Capital Region packed the Wood Road School complex in Ballston Spa on Friday, March 26, to learn about the latest opportunities in science, technology and mathematics and to discover the interrelationship between education, business, industry and economic development.

The conference took place during the district's Superintendent's Conference Day, which is when instructional and non-instructional staff members are mandated to participate in intense professional development training to increase effectiveness and further enhance student achievement, according to Ballston Spa Superintendent Joseph P. Dragone. STEM2010, however, went beyond training that's happened in the past and served a greater purpose.

I think it has a bunch of different implications and one piece is, 'how well are we truly integrating educational technology and changing our work to apply to our students' lives.' It's also how we work and how to change to better prepare kids for today's workforce, said Dragone. "We keep adapting our curriculum and that's very important."

Dragone said the district's curriculum and offered courses continue to evolve each year to give students the best shot at being prepared for today, tomorrow and the future. There are currently courses offered in nanotechnology, nanoeconomics, sustainable design and video game design. This year's well-received new course was biomedical based and next year will offer a course in pharmaceutical research.

Some of the presenters and information sessions were lead by people right in the thick of things, like a representative from GlobalFoundries, an opportunity Dragone said was invaluable.

"Where else can you go and get to see a fuel cell in person and talk to someone about it? We also had people from NYSERDA there; their clean energy and renewable energy programs are the best," said Dragone.

The morning featured a business education roundtable with representatives from the state Department of Labor, Superpower, IBM and other businesses. The afternoon was highlighted by a keynote speech by the CEO of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering who touched on how emerging technology is impacting the region, specifically with the development of GlobalFoundries. Dragone said it's not every day a room of educators gets to learn from business and industry members about the direct connection between education and the workforce.

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