July in Review


STEM Leadership Alliance Conference

After serving on a flip panel focused on "Effective Strategies for STEM Integration,” Smithsonian Science Education Center Director, Carol O'Donnell, led two back-to-back interactive workshops at the STEM Leadership Alliance Conference in Orlando, FL July 8th – 12th. O’Donnell’s workshop, titled "Taking an Integrated Approach to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) in STEM" explored how an integrated approach to teaching STEM subjects is not only about bringing together science, technology, engineering, and math. We must also take an integrated approach in our efforts to serve all students. In the workshop, O'Donnell discussed several of SSEC's current public-private partnerships (e.g. “Girls and Women in STEM”; “Increasing the Diversity of the STEM Teaching Workforce”; and “Ensuring Accessibility in an Inclusive STEM Classroom”— projects which serve students with disabilities and English Language Learners). Drawing on the research literature, participants explored how to integrate STEM initiatives under the cohesive umbrella of “Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI)” using inclusive design.






Effectively Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships to Prepare People for the Future of Work

O’Donnell served as a panelist for the STEMconnector & TATA Consultancy Services hosted “Effectively Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to Prepare People for the Future of Work” event on July 16th at Florida International University - Washington, DC campus. The event aimed to present and explore exceptional practices to engage stakeholders from the public and private sector in effective and impactful partnerships that are transforming outcomes in education. Panelist presented specific examples of PPP relevant to their expertise and shared perspectives on the field at large.  The focus was on models impacting students in K-12, higher education and adult learners.

Dr. Carol O'Donnell serving as a panelist

US Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program

O’Donnell hosted four STEM professionals as part of the US Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) for Canada entitled, “Providing STEM Education to Underserved and Vulnerable Populations”. During the IVLP three-week professional exchange, visitors explored techniques to develop and implement programming to engage youth of different ages and abilities, including different funding and partnership models. Given that the Smithsonian Science Education Center is the only unit at the Smithsonian Institution solely dedicated to formal pre-K-12 science education reform, IVLP arranged the meeting to discuss the national programs and partnerships that SSEC provides.


Sparking STEM Interest Expert Review Panel

O’Donnell served as an expert review panelist for the Sparking STEM Interest Expert Review Panel hosted by the NASA Office of STEM Engagement (NASA OSE). As NASA’s OSE transforms to align with the agency’s 2018 Strategic Plan, it was recommended that the OSE create a deep and comprehensive document that describes what is known about sparking student interest, STEM engagement, and student motivation. An important component of this task is the review and input from nationally recognized experts in STEM.


2019 Learning Planet Assembly & Learning Planet Student Awards

On July 25th – 27th O’Donnell attended the 2019 Learning Planet Assembly & Learning Planet Student Awards hosted by the Interdisciplinary Research Center (CRI) in Paris, France. The assembly was a launching event for revolutionary, open-source approach to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)-focused curriculum design, powered by students and educators alike. The Learning Planet initiative aims at scaling up pedagogies for SDG to engage all students worldwide in learning about our common problems and designing sustainable solutions, with the assembly as the first step for setting the ecosystem into motion.



On July 31st, O’Donnell attended a STEM briefing titled “What do we know about Computer Science Education? Findings from the National Survey of Science & Mathematics Education + Computer Science” at the US Department of Education. The National Science Foundation has periodically funded the National Survey of Science & Math Education (NSSME) report and the latest version, NSSME+, includes research on computer science (CS) education. STEM+CS is a Secretarial priority and Building Computational Literacy is a key goal of the new five-year White House/OSTP STEM education strategic plan. O’Donnell was one of the authors on the education strategic plan and contributed to the NSSME+ report.




Images courtesy of C. O’Donnell

Related Tags

About the Author

Kate Echevarria
Executive Office Coordinator



Kate Echevarria is the Executive Office Coordinator and is responsible for handling all projects, contracts, events, etc., associated with the Executive Office. Prior to SSEC, Kate was in Human Resource Management having worked for an international hotel chain, the U.S. Government, and a science non-profit.