Fireworks with text saying E-STEM Slam Sessions

E-STEM Slam Session

In addition to the NAAEE Conference, one of my favorite conferences experienced was a Google Conference hosted by Brenham, Texas School District in partnership with FriedTechnology. I’m an informal educator at heart, so watching the really cool things formal educators were doing with Google was incredibly inspirational. Side note: I was even inspired to get the Level 1 and 2 Google Educator Certification (which I highly recommend in general for anyone).

There was one session I did not expect. It was called “Slam Session” and was being held in the Recharge Room where one could sit, e-charge your tech, and network with fellow educators. I knew work emails had been building up throughout the morning so I decided I needed a break, and wandered into the room. I was amazed by what I walked into. Let me set the scene.

The facilitator opened the session by explaining…

  • Step one - if you are interested (no pressure and no requirements) submit a Google Form entry by providing a really neat idea/ innovation/ technology/ experience/ resource that you would like to share with the group.
  • Step two - your entry will be put into a Google Sheet - you will present your idea in the order listed in the sheet.
  • Step three - you have two minutes (not a second more) to share your neat idea/ innovation/ technology/ experience/ resource with the group.
  • Step four - once the two minutes are completed, take the bean bag at the podium and (due to all the adrenaline) throw it on the ground and proclaim “SLAM”.
  • Step five - rinse and repeat with the next person on the sheet

The facilitator provided the link to the Google Sheet allowing for everyone to refer back to the sheet on others’ neat ideas/ innovations/ technologies/ experiences/ resources.

Couple things I loved, loved, loved about this format.

  1. Because of the lack of time to overthink anything, the fear to present something new to a crowd of strangers was completely gone. Also, the time limit doesn’t allow for “on-the-spot” questioning.
  2. You were able see the neat idea/ innovation/ technology/ experience/ resource presented in a very brief amount of time, just enough to perk your interest. Also, there is no way to present something in two minutes and not be incredibly excited to squeeze as much information as possible.
  3. It promoted networking because presenters would include their contact information in the Google Form allowing anyone to email them later to ask for more details.

I walked away so excited I went back to work and begged to have this session integrated into our annual national conference sessions. We started the Slam Sessions in 2015, and have held one every year sense. The really cool thing we did was add new tabs to the Google Sheet for each year, and now have a pretty good collection of ideas/ innovations/ technologies/ experiences/ resources.

With all of this being said… we’d like to introduce you to the E-STEM Slam Session started at the 2018 NAAEE Conference. In order to keep the ball rolling we want to try something new. Let’s bring this to the virtual world because we can’t wait until the next conference for a face-to-face. Here are the rules:

  1. Check out the Google Sheet here - Make sure your cool idea/ innovation/ technology/ experience/ resource isn’t already shared
  2. Complete the Google Form here -
  3. Then using some form of screen capture or video capture software/ device (some listed below for guidance) - create a two minute (not a second more) slam session of your cool idea/ innovation/ technology/ experience/ resource (DON’T FORGET to slam at the end, making sure not to hurt anything/one)
    1. Screencastify
    2. Did you know PowerPoint can do Screen Recording? What? New thing learned… SLAM
  4. Lastly, make sure to share your video in the Post a New Comment section below!!

I recently tried this at my new job and here are some FAQs addressed.

  1. What's a slam session? - great question said the educator! A slam session is your opportunity to share an exciting resource (tool, technology, book, article, experience) with the group. The caveat --- you get two minutes to share it. Get your name on the very exclusive list so that you can highlight your exciting 'fill in the blank'. You will submit one entry per exciting 'fill in the blank'.
  2. Will you be timed? YES
  3. Will you be cut off if you go over? YES
  4. Am I afraid of cutting you off if you go over? NO, ask Chris, he’s experienced this at the annual meetings.
  5. Is it intense? - YES, see description above
  6. Is it optional? - YES
  7. What if I don't have something to share? - see #6
  8. What if I think of something in the middle of the night? The form is always open, you are welcome to add your exciting 'fill in the blank' whenever.
  9. Do I need something to slam down, and what would it look like? - Yes, but I don't recommend fraa-gee-lay items. I will be slamming down the soft, empty case that usually holds my headphones. See - nothing gets hurt or broken.
  10. Will your mind get blown? It's possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at


Well, I'm a little over time (3-min), but I am posting my endorsement for integrating into our river/stream studies this spring here at Riveredge Nature Center. I hope you enjoy this quick tour of this amazing education resource!

Great idea Kenneth. Thanks for this!