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Ecosystem Collaboration in Action: The Inside Look at What to Expect for the Fall Convening in Orange County



Eric Meyer of the San Diego STEM Ecosystem and Emily Dilger of the Bay Area STEM Ecosystem have been helping lead the California delegation planning for the November 14- 16 STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice Convening. 

With the rich and unique backgrounds that they bring to their work, those attending the Fall convening are in for a special treat.  Meyer and Dilger answered questions about some of the programming for the Fall Community of Practice Convening. 

Q: What can attendees expect to see, learn, experience at the Fall convening?

Expect to work closer with other Ecosystems and dig deeper into topics of mutual interest.  Expect to develop closer relationships with your CoP partners around the world. Expect to go away with ideas and the phone numbers of friends you can call.  Expect to share your interest, experience, and expertise.

Q: What will be different about the Orange County STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice?

There is an amazing amount of expertise and experience in the room.  We have planned workshops so that we can all hear from more people, learn more from each other, and develop deeper relationships.

Q: What is the one word that you hope people will use to describe the event?

Awesome. Rich. (That was actually two words. But we’re letting it slide.)



Eric has been involved with informal science education throughout his career, beginning as a wildlife biologist, through work as a Peace Corps Parks and Wildlife Extension Officer in Malawi, to work with children, adults, scientists, and educators at Explora Science Center in Albuquerque, and now as Assistant Director of Education at the Fleet Science Center serving as San Diego STEM Ecosystem Project Lead. He is a LEAD STEM Fellow working to shape the future of STEM leadership and is passionate about lifelong learning, access and equity, and collaboration.

Q: What drew you to STEM?

Free range child let out to explore.  Had to be home in time for dinner.  Grew up curious about crow communication and what the next storm would bring to the shore.

Q: What drew you to ecosystem work?

Natural outgrowth of being a wildlife biologist and an informal science educator.  One way to protect people and the planet is to ensure that people have the tools and support to love and utilize STEM in their lives.

Q: Why is STEM important?

STEM is evidence-based decision making to me;  it is a process for learning; it is a tool by which we improve our lives and the lives of others.



Emily Dilger leads the Bay Area STEM Ecosystem out of the California Academy of Sciences. A neuroscientist by training and an educator by practice, she is passionate about informal science education, especially for underserved communities. Her experience includes managing the public education website BrainFacts.org and coaching scientists to communicate science in creative ways.

Q: What drew you to STEM?

I wasn’t a great student, especially in elementary school – I shed many tears over times tables and spelling tests. What drew me to STEM was my parents’ insistence and persuasion that I was ‘smart enough’ even though I didn’t have straight A’s and their pushing me into opportunities outside of school. I learned from exploring the creatures that inhabit Long Island beaches and playing with other curious natural phenomenon. It wasn’t until I got past all the school-required memorization that I started to think of myself as someone who could enjoy learning.

Q: What drew you to Ecosystem work?

The concept just made sense, and the work was exactly what I wanted to do. I love that I get to connect with so many incredible people in the area who all just want to bolster children’s learning, and help them connect with each other. It has been an incredible experience that I never would have dreamed I’d get to do.

Q: Why is STEM important?

STEM experiences offer a fun way to explore critical thinking, creativity and communication, all key skills our kids will need to succeed in jobs we can’t even imagine will exist.

Q: What is the most moving thing that you’ve seen or experienced with your ecosystem work?

My favorite story is still the one about Edith. I met her during our summer family STEM events. We had recruited Gatepath, a special needs group, to volunteer at the events, and she came with her son. She usually stuck to the “arts and crafts” parts of the STEM events (e.g. decorating the sock puppet after the light-up eyes had been wired). But then, the day we had the Raspberry Pi event, we were short on hands, and asked her to help with the computers.

She begged to not have to, but then eventually buckled down and learned the coding activity – and was totally hooked. Since then, she’s attended a number of educator trainings on coding, brought coding to her special needs kids, and recruited other Spanish speaking families to attend coding events. I love how one random Saturday with her son has led to so many more kids getting to experience STEM!