By Joan Boiko

Families in the Palm Springs Unified School District are welcome to attend an afternoon of hands-on learning focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the Family Engagement Center’s “STEMCon” conference on Oct. 14 at Nellie N. Coffman Middle School.

The conference, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., will feature a keynote speaker, parent and student workshops, free child care, free dinner, free books, prizes and take home projects. One in a series of conferences offered by the Family Engagement Center (formerly Parent Engagement Center), this year’s first conference time is being held later in the day than previous years in an effort to reduce potential scheduling conflicts.

“We are hosting the conference form 2 to 6 so that families who typically attend sports practices or games earlier in the day can still join us,” said PSUSD Family Engagement Coordinator Ruby Rivera.

The keynote speaker is John Stevens, a former Nellie Coffman math teacher and current educational technology coach in Chaffey Joint Union High School District. He is the author of the books “The Classroom Chef and Table Talk Math.”

“Families will experience hands-on science, technology, engineering and math lessons,” said Rivera. “Facilitators have designed lessons that are relevant and offer parents the opportunity to continue working on STEM activities at home. PSUSD families will leave STEMCon knowing that we can all be STEM heroes.”

Hands-on Learning For Families

While previous conferences had more of a focus on parent activities and workshops, this event offers just as much for younger attendees.

“We are encouraging whole family attendance,” said Rivera. “Student workshops will include a makerspace and coding class.”

The “makerspace” is where students can explore and play with different STEM-related activities.

“One station will have students blow up a volcano (chemistry), another is a bottle-flipping challenge with charts and graphs (math and physics), another is a balloon and tape tower challenge (engineering),” said Rivera. “Those are just some examples, and there will be about eight stations in the room.”

Nellie N. Coffman is located at 34603 Plumley Road, Cathedral City. No reservations are necessary. For more information, e-mail familycenter@psusd.us or call (760) 416-1374.

Joan Boiko is the Coordinator of Communications and Community Outreach for the Palm Springs Unified School District. She can be reached at jboiko@psusd.us or (760) 416-6010