How do I become a sink for STEM education research, like I am a sink for engineering information?

How do I find the right circles to be as “in” in STEM education as I am in engineering?

Today I want to discuss something that’s been frustrating me for a while: the disparity in my information sources for engineering questions and for STEM education questions.

Here’s what a contrived day looks like (these things have all happened, but not all in one day):

  • Wake up, check my email. Oh, there’s a cool robotics conference coming up soon. And someone sent me a link to the latest hexapod (six-legged robot).
  • Check facebook. Charles posted pictures. “Catalyzed Destruction of a Poly(lactic acid) 3D Printed Bunny (15 photos)”. Huh, I didn’t realize PLA melted like that.
  • Go to work. Work on engineering most of the day with three other engineers. Why aren’t the stepper motors working?? So glad we bought an oscilloscope. After checking stackoverflow, still have no idea how to implement bluetooth low-energy (BLE). Ask friends on google talk and the MITERS mailing list for help. Earlier asked on the Artisan’s discuss and putz-course-6 (the hall I lived on during undergrad’s CS majors list) for BLE help. Crap, no FTDI cable. Facebook chat Charles and get permission borrow one.
  • Chill, read a few friends’ blog posts about their latest technical accomplishment. Oh look, one of my friends is on Hackaday.
  • Grab a snack with a friend after work so that he can help me with our PCB layout software, Diptrace
  • Go to a meeting for contract engineering work. Talk about the latest quadcopters and their costs and how this impacts STEM workshops for high schoolers.
  • Go to MITERS. Rant with my friends about the need for a usable open-source CAD program, and also debate ways we could make a local printed circuit board same-day turnaround manufacturing service.
  • Oh, it’s dinner time, walk with friends over to H-mart and discuss the latest crazy idea we have and bemoan the startups invading our space
  • Meet my friends who stay up until 3 am helping me figure out how to implement bluetooth low energy on our robot.
  • Go home and sleep.

As you can see, if I need engineering help, even just to borrow tools, I have several options:

  • Chat friends a few years older than me or who are more specialized in the field. I have at least ten people I gchat periodically with engineering questions and feel comfortable doing so
  • Email out to engineering lists I’m on, such as MITERS and Artisan’s Asylum discuss and putz-course-2/6, for help
  • Meet people in person for help

I’m also a sink for engineering information. If I do nothing, I still receive tons of information about the latest engineering doodads.

I wish this were the same way regarding information and available resources in STEM education, specifically diversity in STEM education. I want to be a sink for this information. Right now, if I have questions about what’s an effective way to teach pulse-width-modulation, I have no one to gchat. If I have questions about whether my theory that having people creatively build their own things is a good idea and whether it’s worked in the past, I have no one to email. If I need a lengthy strategic session to figure out how I can best help diversify STEM education, there is no one to have lunch with. When I check facebook, I’m not inundated with information or links to videos of the latest STEM education research.

Instead, I have to expend effort and time trying to find all these resources.

My question to you, dear reader, is how can I change this? How do I find the right circles to be as “in” in STEM education as I am in engineering?