Associate Professor Jim Martinez leads a discussion at the CESTEMER conference


Jaime Martinez Awarded Grant to Spur Innovation in STEM Teaching

June 25, 2019

Pictured: Associate Professor Jaime (Jim) Martinez leads a discussion at the biannual CESTEMER conference. 

Associate Professor and Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies Jaime (Jim) Martinez, Ph.D. is passionate about bringing STEM education to underserved and underrepresented student populations. With a grant of nearly $50,000 from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), he is able to support innovative interdisciplinary learning and research, starting with an existing community: attendees of the 2019 CESTEMER conference, The Power of Connection: Performance, Play, and Creativity.

CESTEMER (pronounced more-or-less like “customer”) stands for “Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research,” and thanks to the efforts of Martinez and Senior Director of International and Experiential Education Amy Bravo, M.A., NYIT hosted the largest ever CESTEMER event last week on the New York City campus. As a follow-up, a workshop supported by the NSF grant will train attendees to spread what they’ve learned about teaching STEM throughout their organizations.


Attendees participate in a workshop at CESTEMER at NYIT-New York City.

The CESTEMER conference began in 2012 with science educators who wanted to teach students to incorporate play, performance, and theatrical improvisation into computer programming projects. The biennial meeting disseminates new approaches to STEM education that integrate a range of arts. In the process, the culture of STEM continues changing to become more inclusive and interdisciplinary.

Martinez, author of The Search for Method in STEAM Education, a 2017 book about using the arts in STEM education, said, “This grant project builds on the efforts of an established community to expand the understanding and innovation fostered by integrating arts and STEM. It responds to the need to recruit and advance a diverse workforce skilled in innovation and collaboration in order to ensure the United States remains a global leader in STEM.”

CESTEMER 2019 brought together 90 participants, among them scientists, artists, researchers, and science communicators from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, and Sweden. The conference’s highly interactive sessions featured speakers, performers, hands-on activities, and other ways for attendees to learn and connect. Each presenter in their own way celebrated the interwoven nature of sciences, technologies, humanities, and arts.

See more about the conference on Twitter using #CESTEMER19.