Above, about 100 educators receive training in robotics during a 21st Century Education Symposium at Stanley Mosk Elementary School.

Uniting cutting-edge science and innovative classroom techniques, an education specialist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory offered innovative strategies to about 100 teachers and school leaders during a two-day STEM symposium.

Dr. Brandon Rodriguez was the keynote speaker during last weekend’s 21st Century Education Symposium, sponsored by Lego Education at Stanley Mosk Elementary School in Winnetka.

“Just as science is always changing, so does the way we effectively teach it,” said Rodriguez, a former research scientist who now conducts professional development for JPL. “Long gone are the days where science can be effectively communicated through a packet or a textbook. The scientific explorations of tomorrow are dynamic and interdisciplinary. So, too, must be its explorers.”

Teachers also attended break-out sessions, where they trained on Lego Education products that promote creativity, collaboration, communication and critical-thinking skills. They also received professional development in robotics and hands-on materials that allow students to enhance their language arts skills.

“When we look into the future of American jobs, we see jobs that involve the hard sciences. As a district, we need to prepare our youth for those jobs. Stanley Mosk Elementary is at the cutting edge of STEM teacher professional development to fill that gap,” said Richard Ramos, principal of Haddon STEAM Academy and a symposium participant.

Stanley Mosk Elementary was last year named as a Lego Education Model School, one of only two in the U.S. The school received a five-year, $100,000 grant that includes a full robotics curriculum, teaching materials and professional development designed to support instruction in science, technology, engineering and math.

“We are extremely fortunate to partner with LEGO Education to co-sponsor this 21st Century Education Symposium for progressive, innovative educators and school leaders,” said Mosk Assistant Principal David Garringer.