Fall 2016 Conference: STEAM Ahead

*NEW this conference* You can register online and pay with PayPal.

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Descriptions for Breakout Sessions

Bedtime Math: Crazy 8s,  Catherine Miller

Have you heard about Bedtime Math’s Crazy 8s? It’s the new after-school club designed to get kids fired up about math. Every week kids get to build stuff, run and jump, make music, make a mess…and make friendships at the same time. Crazy 8s makes math a blast for any kid, and the club kit is free. Join us to see Crazy 8s in action! https://crazy8s.bedtimemath.org

Blurring the Lines: Empowering Young Children’s Creativity & Critical Thinking Skills Through Art & Science,  Jana Doherty

This session will provide early childhood educators with a suite of activities for teaching age-appropriate science concepts through art-based mediums. Activities will feature both step-by-step experiments as well as more open-ended sensory experiences. These activities are designed to foster creativity and critical thinking while engaging children in science content and science process skills (observing, classifying, hypothesizing, testing, and using tools). Role-playing as scientists helps children engage their imagination and background knowledge in order to learn in hands-on, minds-on ways. These techniques are vetted in early childhood museum environments and can be used in classroom settings to enhance science learning. Early childhood professionals will walk away with ideas for implementing STEAM activities in their classrooms and fresh ideas for how to encourage scientific thinking during play.

Cross Cutting Concepts in Early Learning Settings,  Laina Clugston & Anne Adams, supported by Alison Miller

There are seven crosscutting concepts of STEM learning described in the Framework for K-12 Science Education. This session will look at four of the concepts most evident in early learning settings: patterns, cause and effect, systems and system models, and stability and change. There will be research-based content on each of the crosscutting concepts and participants will gain a greater understanding of how these concepts can be taught across the age span. There will be staff from the Bowdoin College Children’s Center offering their work with these concepts including developing a curriculum to include these concepts, observing the learning taking place and scaffolding children’s learning when they are engaged in these activities. The idea being that these crosscutting concepts are being taught across domains. For example, cause and effect can be taught while out on the play yard building or while listening to a puppet story before nap. Participants will learn the importance of these concepts and how to integrate them into their day with children, thus better preparing them for school ahead.

Earthquakes!  Gary Lewis

Sometimes we are faced full on with a natural disaster – hurricane, flood, blizzard, ice storm – which affects our families and communities. Very occasionally we get to feel an earthquake, which can provide us a wonderful teaching moment in many directions including mathematics, science, technology and engineering. However, as earthquakes are unpredictable and rare in Maine, we can have our students experience one right in our classrooms using the simplest of equipment allow us to create our own teachable moment. This session will show you how to do exactly that, and take the experience into one of deep learning and discovery.

Flying Beyond the Book: Extending Your Read Alouds with STEAM,  Cathryn Falwell

Cathryn Falwell is an author and illustrator of children’s picture books. She is enthusiastic about encouraging creativity and getting kids out in nature. Her most recent book, The Nesting Quilt, is the story of a young girl and her grandmother helping prepare for the arrival of a new baby. Maya and Nana share a love of birds and their nests.
In this session, using simple materials, easy activities, and library resources, we will discover ways to incorporate science, math, art, and even a little engineering. Ideas will include bird learning activities, bird nesting materials and construction, making twig-book journals to take on a nature walk, easy quilt-making activities, and building nests of our own. Participants will be encouraged to share their own ideas and experiences as well. Following the presentation and conversation, participants will be invited to create take-away projects at several stations set up around the room.

Gardening,  Margaret Cushing

Gardening is a comprehensive learning tool for young children, incorporating all the elements of STEAM. Whether you have an outdoor garden in the summer or do indoor gardening with your children during the long cold Maine winters, you can teach science, technology, engineering, art and math with every plant your children grow. We’ll share ideas and activities to bring gardening to life for even the most timid gardener.

PreK STEAM Stories & Family Partnerships,  Bonnie Blagojevic & Vickie Grotton

In this session, we will share stories of STEAM activities from Maine early childhood programs from simpler to more involved inquiry science explorations,and different ways families got involved. There will be time to explore at activity stations and favorite resources will be shared.

Science Across the Spectrum: Applying the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Across the Early Childhood Years,  Patty Williams & Carol Lee

This session will introduce teachers to the Next Generation Science Standards NGSS, their major principles, and how they align with the Maine Infant Toddler Guidelines and the Maine Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS). Participants will explore science curriculum activities appropriate for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and young school-aged children which meet educational standards and allow for developmentally appropriate, playful learning opportunities in the classroom. They will also view and analyze video footage of children engaging in science curriculum activities based on the standards. The overarching goal of the session is to enrich participants’ understanding of the NGSS and show how it can be incorporated into their work with children ages 0-8.

Science Practices in Play – Infants/Toddlers,  Beth Amaral, Heather Stephenson & Jessica McCurdy, supported by Alison Miller

This session will maintain focus on play-based curriculum while discussing STEM learning that takes place during this play. Designed to look at infant and toddler play, this session will help those working with our youngest learners to observe STEM learning in play, find language to articulate the learning that is taking place and document how infants and toddlers are meeting STEM standards. There will be research-based content offered on what STEM standards are (as described in the Next Generation Science Standards) and what STEM learning looks like; there will also be observations, slides, videos and documentation of the STEM play that has been occurring at the Bowdoin College Children’s Center. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss with other participants and BCCC educators about strategies used to continue play-based curriculum and still meet science & math standards.

Science Practices in Play – Preschool,  Kelly Averill & Kaylee Trefethen, supported by Alison Miller

This session will maintain focus on play-based curriculum while discussing STEM learning that takes place during this play. Designed to look at preschool play, this session will help those working with our preschool age children to observe STEM learning in play, find language to articulate the learning that is taking place and document how these children are meeting STEM standards. There will be research-based content offered on what STEM standards are (as described in the Next Generation Science Standards) and what STEM learning looks like; there will also be observations, slides, videos and documentation of the STEM play that has been occurring at the Bowdoin College Children’s Center. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss with other participants and BCCC educators about strategies used to continue play-based curriculum and still meet science & math standards.

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This event is sponsored through a collaboration between Maine Roads to Quality at the University of Southern Maine, the Maine DHHS Office of Child and Family Services, and the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children.

* Cancellation Policy: Refunds for paid registrations will be honored ONLY if cancellation notice is received by MaineAEYC at least one full week before the date of the event.

We have a great line-up of presenters here are some of our their bios and breakout session information. We will continue providing information over the coming week.


GBL - 5Gary Lewis is an enthusiastic Earth science educator who has taught and run programs in Australia and the US.   He undertook his schooling in Australia and taught in schools in New South Wales.  He ran science clubs for children, presented children’s science segments on Australian TV and ran trips for teachers around the globe – with a focus on learning about volcanoes.  In 2003 Gary moved to the US to take up a position as the Director of Education & Outreach with the Geological Society of America.  In 2014 Gary accepted a position at the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance running its exciting WeatherBlur citizen science program and coordinating communications.   He continues to run trips for teachers to Hawaiian volcanoes each year as a hobby!

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Children-GardeningMargaret Cushing has 35 years experience in childcare. Ranging from in-home care to managing an NASB childcare program. She spent 5 years with Child Care Connections, the Resource and Referral Agency, for Cumberland County. Ms. Cushing is currently with the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency where she actively works with child care and functional needs programs to develop disaster plans. She also works through Child Care Options to teach a variety of classes.

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Janna Doherty HeadshotJanna Doherty is the Coordinator of Early Childhood Programs at the Museum of Science in Boston. Drawing from her background in visual arts and science education, she designs hands-on programming for children 0-8 and their caregivers. She develops training in informal education techniques as well as workshops around child development and best practices for teaching young children. Ms. Doherty is also an educator at the Museum of Fine Arts, connecting objects in the collection with children’s own creativity. She received her B.A. in Visual and Media Arts from Emerson College and her M.A. in Museum Education from Tufts University.

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BonnieBBonnie Blagojevic is an Education Consultant (http://morningtownconsulting.com/) and Apple Distinguished Educator interested in exploring ways technology can be used to increase educational opportunities for young children and families. She is an NAEYC Consulting Editor and has co-authored several articles for NAEYC publications on STEAM-related topics.

Vicky Grotton is the PreK Teacher at Glenburn Elementary School in Glenburn, and Maine’s 2014 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year.

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Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 8.56.25 AMCathryn Falwell is a Maine author and illustrator of 27 children’s picture books. Some of her titles include Turtle Splash!, Pond Babies,(both Raising Readers books), Feast for 10, Rainbow Stew and The Nesting Quilt. Her visits to schools and libraries over the past 25 years to present programs for children has given her the opportunity to share her enthusiasm about books, creativity, imagination and the natural world. Ms. Falwell was recently honored with the Katahdin Award by the Maine State Library Association.

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Dr. Patty Hrusa Williams, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF). She also coordinates UMF’s Infant Toddler Playgroup Program, a multi-age parent-child playful learning program, facilitated by UMF practicum students. She teaches courses in infant-toddler development and curriculum, play, family-community engagement, and research methods. Her research interests include infant-toddler curriculum, community-engaged science education, parent support, and strategies to encourage parent involvement in children’s learning. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Child Development from Tufts University. She is a new member of Maine AEYC and resides in Wilton, ME.  

lee-head Dr. Carole K. Lee, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Elementary Education at the University of Maine at Farmington. Her areas of expertise are professional development of science teachers, inquiry-based science teaching, and curriculum development.



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Alison Riley Miller, assistant professor in education, received her B.A. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Arcadia University, and completed her Ph.D. at Columbia. She conducts research that focuses on student learning and engagement with science practices in the context of STEM education. She is particularly interested in students’ engagement with practices around model use in the context of Earth Science and in pedagogical strategies and educational contexts that support such engagement. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Miller taught for nine years at the secondary level and that experience informs her research interests in Earth Science teaching and learning, design-based research, cognitive apprenticeship, and situated learning.

laina-2Laina Clugston works at Bowdoin College Children’s Center where she is a lead teacher in the Infant and Toddler Programs. Laina is active in the Center’s staff development and provides support, mentoring and training. She lives in South Freeport, Maine and is formerly from the Washington D.C. area, where she served for twenty years at Acorn Hill Waldorf Nursery and Kindergarten as a Parent Child/Infant and Toddler teacher.  In addition to her Waldorf training, Laina is a student of Jungian psychology, Emmi Pikler and is currently in the advanced training program through the Neufeld Institute.

Anne Adams has worked in the field of early childhood education for 15 years in the Northeast, holds a BS in Early Childhood Education and a MS in Administration & Policy Making in Early Ed. Her experiences include teaching in classrooms, mentoring educators and presenting at conferences. Anne currently works as the associate director at Bowdoin College Children’s Center and is the President of MaineAEYC Governing Board. Her passion in the field currently lies in attachment based caregiving in group settings and outdoor play based curriculum. She recently welcomed her first child and is enjoying getting to know her baby boy.


Kaylee_Profile2016Kaylee Trefethen graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) in 2011 with a Baccalaureate in Early Childhood Special Education and a Minor in Psychology.  She has been teaching preschool in southern Maine since 2012, most recently at the Bowdoin College Children’s Center. Currently she is enrolled at UMF and working toward a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She shares her philosophy- “I have a strong passion for working with young children as they develop emotionally and cognitively through the obstacles of daily life.  As a caregiver, I believe in giving children the gift of a secure and positive relationship in order to provide the stability they need to process their emotions and navigate through solving challenging problems.  I believe that open-ended, child-directed play is a fundamental tool for children to pave their paths for standard academics.  True play allows children to open their minds and experiment without consequence.  Children can gain self-confidence while creating new ideas and finding their own success with the satisfaction of knowing they produced an outcome that works for their individual needs.  When young children are free to play and develop outside of an adult-psychological lens, they can be better prepared for future academic curriculum.”


jess_profile2016 Jessica McCurdy works at Bowdoin College Children’s Center

heather_profile2016 Heather Stephenson works at Bowdoin College Children’s Centerscreen-shot-2016-09-14-at-8-10-52-am