ITEEA Incoming President-Elect Works Towards "Zero Barriers in STEM Education"

Scott Nichols will join ITEEA's Board of Directors in April as President-Elect. He recently shared informatioin about his involvement with the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) - the only organization at the Smithsonian Institution that is completely dedicated to enhancing K-12 STEM education.The SSEC was established in 1985 through sponsorship by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences. Essentially, the mission of the SSEC is to develop high-quality curricula, resources, and programs to support their three goals: STEM innovation, inclusion, and sustainability.

In 2022, I worked with the SSEC on a project called Zero Barriers in STEM Education: Accessibility and Inclusion, a response to national data representing an underrepresentation of students with disabilities. Working with a team from Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU), University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), and Baltimore City Public School System, we developed a curriculum and professional learning opportunity to support Maryland teachers in integrating universal design for learning principles into their STEM instruction and classroom culture. This integration and professional learning take place after identifying a problem of practice related to accessibility and inclusion in STEM learning. This project is near completion.

Recently, I was invited by the SSEC to serve as a mentor for their 2023 Diversity in STEM Education Summit. This summit will convene 20 hand selected teams from around the country at Dillard University, a Historically Black University, in New Orleans. LA. The purpose of the summit it to engage national education leaders in a highly-interactive experience to develop action plans for attracting and retaining a diverse STEM teaching workforce. Furthermore, the SSEC would like to continue this work after the summit to build a large network or changemakers and strategists to help other systems in need of a diverse STEM teaching workforce. This

I highly recommend taking advantage of any opportunity to work with the SSEC. The resources and partnerships provided during these projects are vast and unparalleled. The institution continues to support those who are actively striving to change the landscape of STEM teaching and learning, as well as provides the leadership to promote systemic change. 

Scott is the Coordinator of Career Programs, STEM, and Computer Science at the Maryland State Department of Education in Baltimore, MD.

Interested in learning more about SSEC? You can visit or contact Scott at