Patrick Benfield is the creator of STEAM by Design, an approach to learning that leverages the powerful ideas and tools of the Maker Movement through the use of design methodologies. As the STEAM and Makerspace Director for St. Gabriel’s Catholic School in Austin, TX, he collaborates with PreK–8 grade teachers to thoughtfully integrate these concepts within the curriculum, both in the d.lab for Making and in classrooms across the campus.
Oren Connell manages the Maker Space at Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, an all-girls public school, serving grades 6–12 in Austin TX. In addition to making sure the bandsaw blade is always sharp, "Mr. Oren" works with students, during school hours and after school, to inform, train, and encourage a wide variety of projects and processes from laser cutters to hot glue guns. Oren continually collaborates closely with Ann Richards faculty to encourage, train, and facilitate Maker and STEAM focused projects in their classrooms. Outside of Ann Richards, Oren develops STEM-centric curriculum that focuses on fun ways to engage participants. Before coming to Ann Richards Oren worked with Austin Tinkering School designing and leading classes and camps.
Alex Morrison is an Independent Museum Professional, specializing in developing and implementing inquiry based making programs for ages 2-15 in museums and other informal learning institutions. Her focus lies in exploring how multidisciplinary making experiences that intersect STEM principles with creative arts, performance, and drama can foster prolonged engagement in a museum's collection.
Lauren is the Director and co-Founder of the non-profit, MathHappens. MathHappens works to help museums, cultural institutions and informal educators provide authentic math programming that is relevant to their core offerings. UTeach team members conduct site visits, engage in content research develop concepts and ideas and then create a model or exhibit to fit and facilitate the learning opportunity. Following completion of her own UTeach program, Lauren served as a math teacher, department head and Apprentice Teacher mentor. In collaboration with with three UTeach professors Lauren published Teaching Algebra and Geometry Concepts by Modeling Telescope Optics, Mathematics Teacher in 2008. The article idea began with a UTeach Project Based Instruction course and it is really a great example of leveraging a maker experience to share and teach core math concepts and it is a precursor to Lauren’s work at MathHappens.
Rich runs Charmed Labs, a small company located in Austin TX that caters to robot-builders and makers. His past projects have included GigaPan, a gigapixel imaging system, TeRK, the Telepresence Robotics Kit, and Pixy, an easy-to-use robot vision system. He also keeps a notebook of cool ideas that he imagines will change the world, if only he had enough time. Much of his spare time is spent with his two boys, and like all parents he wants them to succeed in something they truly enjoy but secretly wishes they will eventually choose a career in STEAM.