Next Gen STEM conference logo

Working Conference on Wicked Problems in STEM Teacher Preparation:

Catalyzing Change Through Strategic Collaborations


June 24-25, 2021

8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time)

Are you grappling with challenging problems related to STEM teacher preparation at the elementary or secondary level? Are you interested in making research-based improvements to your STEM teacher preparation programs? Would you like to increase the number and diversity of students in your programs? Are you interested in collaborating with others to come up with innovative solutions to these challenges?

If so, we invite you to a very different type of conference where you will virtually collaborate with a diverse set of colleagues from around the country to:

  • Learn about and begin to address some of the most vexing (wicked) problems in STEM teacher preparation;
  • Work with a team from your institution or region to create an action plan designed to disrupt and then improve your program during the next 1–5 years;
  • Help build a networked improvement community to catalyze and support regular improvements in STEM teacher preparation programs through cross institutional collaborations.

Content (closed)


WHAT can I expect?

You will attend the working conference online, from the comfort of your own office or home. We will use Zoom and the Whova conference app throughout the conference to network and collaborate.

This working conference is a two-day, online participatory experience to improve STEM teacher preparation programs through collaboration. Participants will gain insights into the STEM teacher preparation ecosystem and examine variables that influence three wicked problems in STEM teacher preparation:

  • Enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion in K–12 STEM Teacher Preparation;
  • Preparing and supporting all elementary teachers to be teachers of STEM;
  • Creating interdisciplinary and culturally sustaining secondary STEM teacher preparation programs.

WHO should attend?

This conference is designed for teams of educators in the United States engaged or interested in K–12 STEM teacher preparation, and financial support in the form of stipends are available for the first 25 teams that register!  Stipends are intended to incentivize participation by individuals who can add diverse expertise and perspectives to your team.

Conference participation will be limited to 250 people to ensure productive discourse.

While participation by individuals will be accommodated on a case-by-case basis, making significant and lasting changes to teacher preparation programs and addressing wicked problems typically requires building and maintaining strategic cross-sector collaborations. Consequently, we strongly encourage teams of 4–10 people from institutions or regions to register and attend.

WHY attend?

Despite the different contexts, cultures, and populations in science and mathematics teacher preparation programs, we share similar challenges, constraints, and goals to improving our programs and the experiences of our preservice students. Collaborating with others who have different perspectives, backgrounds, and ideas encourages creative problem-solving, promotes sharing of expertise and resources, and can lead to unexpected insights and solutions.

HOW can I learn more?

Please contact Roxane Ronca.

HOW does my team apply for a stipend?

Stipends are available for up to $2000 per team, for a maximum per person of $500.  Some individuals may not need, want, or be able to receive a stipend. Please apply for the amount your team requires to support broad participation.  Participation of current pre-service students and recent graduates of your program is highly desired.

To receive a stipend be one of the first 25 teams to register. Teams must have at least 4 (and up to 10) members, and membership must represent at least 3 of the categories listed below. 

  • Faculty in education or STEM disciplines who contribute to the preparation of future K–12 teachers;
  • Practicing K–12 teachers (elementary and secondary), including recent graduates, cooperating, or mentor teachers;
  • Current K–16 administrators (e.g., principals, chairs, directors, deans) interested in contributing to improvements in K–12 STEM teacher preparation and supporting the success of K–12 STEM teachers and students;
  • Undergraduate and graduate students interested or enrolled in STEM teacher preparation programs or STEM education research;
  • Higher education staff working in education admissions, advising, and recruiting; 
  • Other key stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, government, business organizations) who can help your team develop, implement, or institutionalize changes to your STEM teacher preparation programs.

IN ADDITION each team must meet the following criteria:

  • Team leads must register by 5 pm Pacific time May 15; all other team members must register by June 4.
  • Participants will receive a pre-conference assignment in the registration verification email. This assignment is also available as a download at the bottom of this website. With input from team members, team leads should submit responses by 5 pm Pacific time June 4. We anticipate completing the assignment will take about an hour of group effort.
  • Teams must meet (in person or virtually) for at least an hour between May 15 and June 4 to complete a preliminary Wicked Problems assignment. 
  • At least 4 team members must fully participate in both days of the conference.
  • Team members requesting a stipend must fully participate in both days.
  • Each team member who intends to receive a stipend must complete and submit necessary information to process payments by 5 pm Pacific time June 30.

Download Pre-Conference Assignment for Teams and Individuals


Download PDF



There is no cost to attend. To incentivize and acknowledge the inclusion of diverse perspectives and expertise, the first 25 teams that meet guidelines outlined in "HOW does my team apply for a stipend?" will be eligible to apply for up to $2,000 to support team member participation. Applications for funding will open as soon as conference registration begins.

National Science Foundation logoThis conference is supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DUE-1625566).