Meet the People Behind the 2015 NSTA STEM Forum and Expo

The 2015 NSTA STEM Forum and Expo is happening next month in Minneapolis, May 20–23. This unique, STEM-focused event is where informal and formal educators gather to share tools and resources that contribute to successful implementation of STEM education into schools and communities. What makes this so different from any other event of its kind? The people! So here’s a peek behind the scenes at just a few of the people who are collaborating to organize this year’s forum.

STEM Forum committee member Doug PaulsonDoug Paulson (the home town hero in this bunch!) is a STEM Specialist, Division of Academic Standards and Instructional Effectiveness, in the Minnesota Department of Education.

“I am thrilled to welcome NSTA and the STEM Forum to Minnesota, home of innovations such as pacemakers, post-it notes, and most recently, the first personal jet. In addition to the awesome sessions, come and hear from the next generation of Minnesota innovators on the Saturday student panel!

 

NSTA STEM Forum committee member Jennifer WilliamsJennifer C. Williams is the Department Chair Lower School Science at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, LA.

“I’m looking forward to the excellent slate of presenters dedicated to helping primary educators develop STEM programs for their schools and their classrooms.”

 

STEM Forum committee member Kavita GuptaKavita Gupta is a High School Strand Leader in the Fremont Union High School District in Sunnyvale, CA.

“As a 16- year veteran of teaching profession , I think STEM is the future of education. NMSI (National Math + Science Initiative)  underscores the need of STEM education, ‘The U.S. needs 1 million more STEM professionals over the next decade than it is projected to produce at the current rate.’ We need to align with the STEM education to fulfill this need. I am really excited for the high school strand of  STEM forum this year because we have a wide-variety of rich STEM-based lessons for high school teachers, administrators and science liaisons– handpicked from over 100 outstanding  proposals.”

 

STEM Forum committee member Adrienne GiffordAdrienne Gifford is the Innovation & Technology Lab Director at Open Window School in Bellevue, WA (in addition to being a robotics coach and crafter); and she is the Steering Committee Chair for the 2015 STEM Forum & Expo.

“As a former aerospace engineering major, I am SO pumped to see the keynote by Captain Barrington Irving—the youngest person to ever fly solo around the globe! It is so inspiring to have the chance to see someone my own age pursuing their dreams and having such a positive influence on STEM education at the same time!”

 

 

NSTA Assistant Executive Director of Conferences and Meetings, Delores HowardDelores Howard is the Assistant Executive Director of Conferences and Meetings at the National Science Teachers Association.

“When I see teachers coming together and sharing their best ideas and supporting everyone from the newbies to the people making decisions at the highest level, it reminds me how lucky I am to be tied into this fantastic network!

 

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2015 STEM Forum & Expo

2015 Area Conferences

One Last Look at #NSTA15 Chicago

To see more from the 2015 National Conference on Science Education in Chicago, March 12-15, please view the #NSTA15 Facebook Album—and if you see yourself, please tag yourself!

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How Do You Captivate with Current Events?

St. Thomas- August 08 145Today is March 22nd which can mean a variety of things to a variety of people.  It’s close to the beginning of spring this year; it’s in the middle of March madness, and it is also World Water Day.  According to the World Water Day website, this day is “It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. It’s a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future.” While the website has a variety of resources and materials other resources that can be utilized include the following which also appear in this month’s Leaders Letter.

While this day is important, it is not the topic of this month’s blog – rather the topic is “which current events do you integrate into your curriculum and how do you do so?” is the topic.

In recent months, the Leaders Letter has featured the following topics in the “Building Content” area:

Each of these topics focused on a current event in the news and the application of science to helping solve a problem, investigate a phenomena, or understand what is happening in the world.

Current events often bring the science students are studying to real life and create an interest to explore in more depth and understand more about what is happening, as well as, the science behind it. Current events can be obtained from print, social or digital news sources (and a recommendation is to always verify through multiple sources especially if something is obtained online) thus allowing news to be almost at your fingertips.   Discovery News actually has a listing of science topics tagged “current events” which may be of help in finding reading materials for students about a variety of current topics.

Where and how you find the current events topics is part of this question but also what do you do with the topic once found is the second part?  Do you utilize a current event topic at the beginning or end of class? Keep a certain day of the week for these topics? Hold the topic until it appropriately fits into your curriculum?  Share your ideas with others as you continue this month’s conversation.

 

 

 

Posted in Science 2.0, The Leading Edge | 1 Response

A View of #NSTA15 from Down Under

international science teacher delegationAs soon as I saw the space that was allocated for the NSTA conference I knew I was in for something special. To have such a large convention centre dedicated to various forms of professional development over four days is a credit to the American science teachers and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), who took the time to put the workshops on.

The vast choice of workshops available meant there was always a new learning opportunity either on something specifically relevant to my teaching, or something that I was interested in learning more about. The presenters were confident and inspiring, encouraging high standards in the classroom. It is apparent that with the implementation of the NGSS, teachers in America are becoming more willing to think beyond the textbook and incorporate skills that are able to be applied to all facets of life beyond the classroom.

Moving from Textbook to Reality

As STEM becomes more prominent in Australian schools, I feel confident that I can up-skill my colleagues’ approach to their teaching and assist them in constructing lessons and units that engage students with real-world experiences, developing their global competitiveness for the jobs of the future. To have such an amazing educational event keynoted by someone as inspiring as Bill Nye seemed to bring the entire audience together, and perhaps reignited a passion for some teachers encouraging them to be the best they can.

Further to this, the resources available both in the NSTA store and the trade displays are going to greatly assist my lesson development as I have been exposed to data I didn’t know existed. I spent way too much money on books at the NSTA store and if it wasn’t for the weight limit on my flight home I would have bought a lot more. The digital resources that I have discovered thanks to both workshops and trade displays are amazing, and they are going to assist me in bringing global data to the classroom. I have already started to share these with my colleagues back home and I am excited to incorporate them into my teaching programs.

I am very thankful for this experience, and appreciate how welcoming all the NSTA staff were, and all the effort they went to to make the experience worthwhile. I look forward to the strong partnerships that have been forged with the Australian Science Teachers Association and though I may never be fortunate enough to attend another NSTA I will always remember the passion I saw in my international colleagues and I will use that as inspiration create relevant, supportive environments for science education.

Today’s Guest Blogger is Ashley Mulcahy, Glenwood High School, Science Staff, Foreman Avenue & Glenwood Park Drive, Glenwood New South Wales 2768

Editor’s Note: NSTA is grateful for this international view of our conference and learns so much from those beyond our borders. Thank you, Ashley! Should you ever require a member of the NSTA social media staff to attend an Australian conference, don’t hesitate to ask…

To see more from the 2015 National Conference on Science Education in Chicago, March 12-15, please view the #NSTA15 Facebook Album—and if you see yourself, please tag yourself!

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2015 STEM Forum & Expo

2015 Area Conferences

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Crosscutting concepts

Themes, big ideas, unifying concepts—as the editor of Science Scope writes, the idea of crosscutting concepts in science is not a new one. (See the guest editorial Interdisciplinary Science: A Fresh Approach From the Past in Science Scope) But what is new in the NGSS is how the concepts integrate with science/engineering practices and disciplinary core ideas and also transcend grade levels and traditional subject areas. Many of us teachers are (or have been) challenged to connect these three dimensions in a planned and purposeful way. Fortunately for us, the NSTA journals each month provide examples and suggestions.

cover of the March 2015 issue of Science ScopeScience Scope—Embedding Crosscutting Concepts

“Engineering inspired by nature is just one approach you can use to incorporate the NGSS crosscutting concept of Structure and Function into your science curriculum.”

Here are some SciLinks with content information and suggestions for additional activities and investigations related to this month’s featured articles:

  Continue reading …

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Building NGSS Capacity at #NSTA15

NGSS Forum collageThe 2015 NSTA National Conference on Science Education (held in Chicago, March 12-15) was a great opportunity for educators to build their capacity for understanding and implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  In Thursday’s featured presentation (The Key to Implementing the NGSS? Teachers!), Dr. Stephen Pruitt described this capacity-building journey as a path toward expertise: gaining knowledge but also pairing that knowledge with the information on how to use it.  In Chicago, NSTA offered NGSS sessions for everyone, covering the spectrum of experience with the Next Generation Science Standards.

2015 National Conference Learning

In Thursday’s Featured Presentation, Dr. Pruitt described three key innovations of the Next Generation Science Standards–3-Dimensional learning, the shift toward students being engaged in explaining phenomena and designing solutions, and the integration of engineering with the nature of science. The conference offered over 350 sessions to learn about these key innovations and move the standards into practice. Conference attendees had opportunities to learn from the NGSS and Framework writers, science specialists, post-secondary researchers, and classroom educators.

On Friday NSTA hosted a series of presentations called the 2015 NGSS@NSTA Forum. Dr. Joe Krajcik facilitated one of my favorite forum sessions (Developing and Evaluating Three-Dimensional Curriculum Materials). During our time with Dr. Krajcik, we were immersed in NGSS experiences involving models, reflection, table talk, metacognition, and practicing all the elements of expertise. An important take-away for the group was that this “figuring out” using all 3 dimensions  by explaining or creating a model continues to build throughout the lessons facilitating the deep understanding of science.

Many of the NGSS “rock stars” describe the result of NGSS learning as creating a complete picture for the student as opposed to presenting the student with discrete pieces of information.  There were so many wonderful NGSS-focused sessions presented by teachers sharing how they are translating NGSS into classroom teaching and learning. For example, Jaclyn Austin and Emily Perry shared their Stormwater Literacy Project as part of the Natural Resources, Natural Partnerships strand incorporating the NGSS and helping students use the science they learn to impact change. The NGSS share-a-thon session on Saturday morning brought together a room full of NGSS resources and opportunities to impact classrooms.

Post-Conference Learning

A critical element to any great professional learning experience is the opportunity to put new learning into practice and reflect on product and results, as well as find on-going support.  For those new to the NGSS, Achieve announced the release of a series of videos around the NGSS developed in partnership with the Teaching Channel.  Educators can use these videos to continue learning about the three dimensions of the NGSS and how they work together.  For those ready to design NGSS lessons and units or to evaluate existing materials to see if they are NGSS aligned, the EQuIP rubric developed in a partnership between NSTA and Achieve is a tool to encourage reflection and conversation among educators working together to develop and evaluate instructional products.  The NGSS@NSTA Hub is a one-digital destination to support teaching and learning of the Next Generation Science Standards.  NSTA offers more than 80 resources (not counting their journal articles)  to support teachers in understanding the NGSS and implementing the standards.

Man and woman holding a sign saying NGSSBlogs ProjectIn addition to resources and tools, educators need opportunities to have conversations and share ideas, stories, and curriculum.  As the NGSS featured presentation title indicates, the key to implementing NGSS is teachers.  Every teacher has a story to share and should be a part of the national conversation and work building curriculum around the NGSS.  There are rich communities like the #NGSSchat PLN (Professional Learning Network) and the #NGSSblogs Project that offer ongoing support, conversation, and opportunity to share and receive feedback about the frontline implementation of NGSS:  the science classroom and the programs and PD that support it.  There are multiple ways to access and join #NGSSchat and the #NGSSblogs project.  Learn more at http://www.ngsspln.com/.

Tricia Shelton at NGSS@NSTA forumTricia Shelton is a High Science Teacher and Teacher Leader with a BS in Biology and MA in Teaching, who has worked for 19 years in Kentucky driven by a passion to help students develop critical and creative thinking skills. Tricia is a 2014 NSTA Distinguished Teaching Award winner for her contributions to and demonstrated excellence in Science Teaching. As a Professional Learning Facilitator and NGSS Implementation Team Leader, Tricia has worked with educators across the United States to develop Best Practices in the Science and Engineering classroom through conference presentations, webinars, coordinating and co- moderating #NGSSchat on Twitter, and virtual and face to face PLC work.  Tricia’s current Professional Learning Facilitation includes work around the Next Generation Science Standards and helping STEM students develop the 21st Century Skills of critical and creative thinking, collaboration and communication (including Social media and Video) and Project-Based Learning. Since 2011, she has conducted action research in her classroom to develop effective and accessible instructional and assessment strategies incorporating Best Practice in the STEM classroom, including work for the Marzano Research Laboratory. Through a partnership with BenchFly, the premier science video production platform, she works with CEO, Dr. Alan Marnett, to reinvent scientific education and communication with video. Find Shelton on Twitter @TdiShelton.

Read Shelton’s previous blog: The Next Generation Science Standards: a transformational opportunity

To see more from the 2015 National Conference on Science Education in Chicago, March 12-15, please view the #NSTA15 Facebook Album—and if you see yourself, please tag yourself!

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2015 STEM Forum & Expo

2015 Area Conferences

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Moticam X

 Moticam X

moticam

We live in an age where iPads and cell phones are part of the everyday fabric of high school life. With this being the case, Motic’s Moticam X has a great deal of promise as a scientific instrument that can connect a classroom microscope to a variety of portable technologies. As an added bonus, the Moticam X allows you to stretch your science budget by putting students’ personal devices to use instead of investing in a classroom set of new technology. The kit includes:

 

  • A focusable lens
  • Variable size eyepiece couples
  • Removable mini-USB cable
  • USB charger
  • C-ring
  • Macro-tube
  • Motic calibration slide with 4 circles and cross hair
  • Motic software and free apps for tablets

 

The Moticam X is a digital camera that can be used on its own for macro images or attached to the eyepiece of a microscope. Once in place, the digital camera streams high-resolution images to wifi-enabled devices such as  smart phones, tablets, and laptops. The Moticam X device can stream images to up to six different devices at the same time, which is excellent for a typical lab station sizes. The streaming image is 1.3 megapixels, which is appropriate for viewing on screen.

The procedure to set up the Moticam X is very straightforward. First, prior to attaching the Moticam X, I focused a microscope on a prepared slide. Next, I attached the Moticam X to the eyepiece of my microscope using a coupler that comes with the device. (If you prefer, you can attach the Moticam X to a goose-neck clamp and use it without the benefit of the microscope’s magnification.) Once the Moticam X was in place, I connected my iPad to the Moticam X by searching for it under the list of available wi-fi connections under the Settings tab. Once I established this connection I launched the app associated with the device and was able to view the slide on which the microscope was focused The device comes with software to help you connect to other wireless devices your students might be using. A router is not required.

 Users can view live images, but can also save images to their portfolios. They can then use the apps image editing tools to modify, annotate, and share images. The app also comes with camera settings that allow users to make adjustments for lighting conditions (fluorescent, daylight, LED, etc.) and change the brightness, hue, color saturation, and other basic settings. You can also flip and mirror the image using the camera controls

 Overall, I think this is a first-rate device that enhances the capabilities of a microscope and facilitates lab work. In addition, students can save images on portable devices and refer to them when completing homework and other assignments outside the classroom. The Motic X is a reasonably priced and well-built device that enhances the applications of microscope viewing by integrating Wi-Fi applications to connect microscopes with modern technologies. Undoubtedly, this is the kind of the application that will help students use technology for learning and give them an opportunity to collaborate outside the classroom.

Specifications

Manufacturer: Motic

Price: $449.00

Website: www.motic.com/en/

Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J38hlQAuW98

 

moticamx3

 

 Edwin P. Christmann is a professor and chairman of the secondary education department and graduate coordinator of the mathematics and science teaching program at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.

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Following children’s interests–following a caterpillar over winter

It’s always interesting to hear how other early childhood educators make the most of children’s curiosity to teach science concepts. Guest blogger Maggie Posey is a mom to a curious two year old and preschool teacher to eight eager learners. She blogs about both athttp://www.mamasuerte.blogspot.com. In this guest post she writes about how her preschool students’ interest in a caterpillar led to a month-long investigation.

Welcome Maggie!  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Isabella Tiger Moth caterpillar or Banded Woolybear (Pyrrharctia isabella)I am not much of a bug person. In fact, creepy crawly things are just that to me—creepy. However, in October when one of my students asked if we could care for a caterpillar she found on the way to school, I decided to put my hesitation aside and explore her interest. Caterpillars quickly became an interest of all the children in my class, as they gathered around the new class “pet’, reaching for it and wanting to hold it.

At first, I strongly encouraged my students, eight almost four-year-olds, NOT to touch the caterpillar. I remembered hearing somewhere that they could be poisonous or stick your skin like cacti. Searching online I found the Discover Life website with pages for identifying caterpillars (note that not all caterpillars are listed on the site). As I checked Cover of the book, The Secret Life of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar.boxes detailing specific information about it like hairy body, brown hair, found in Virginia, the website narrowed the results until I was able to easily pick out an image of our caterpillar. After identifying our caterpillar as a Woolly Bear Caterpillar and eagerly researching this breed, I realized that it was harmless. Searching online, I found The Secret Life of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Laurence Pringle (2014).  This book became the main resource for our adventures with Woolly Bear. Using the information we learned in Children's design of a habitat for the caterpillar.that book, my children designed a plan for a habitat using paper, cotton balls (to represent rocks), leaves, stickers, markers, and pretty much any other art materials The habitat the children constructed for the caterpillar.they thought was necessary. Using the plans they made, we built the real habitat: a plastic container without a lid with rocks, dirt, sticks, and green leaves. I found the “What Do Caterpillars Eat” website to be a helpful guide, along with our book, in determining what to feed Woolly Bear. The  Peterson First Guide to Caterpillars of North America is another good resource.  Daily, the kids found green leaves for Woolly Bear at the playground or on their walks to school, adding their collections to the container. We also made three dimensional models of Woolly Bear, as we called it, observing the creature with magnifying glasses in and out of its habitat for inspiration.

As winter crept up on us, we noticed a lack of green foliage outside. Cabbage, lettuce, and plantains replaced leaves on Woolly Bear’s menu. Cue a tangent lesson on changing seasons! From Pringle’s book, we knew that Woolly Bear Caterpillars usually hibernate, but our Woolly Bear kept moving around! We wondered what would happen to Woolly Bear. Children look at the mini fridge as a place for overwintering the caterpillar.Could it somehow hibernate inside our room? Should we release it? What would happen if Woolly Bear didn’t hibernate? Could it still mature to a moth? I asked Peggy Ashbrook for some guidance, and she became known as the “expert” in our class. [Note from Peggy: I am not an expert but I was able to suggest some resources!] Having an expert was helpful. When my students asked me a question I didn’t know the answer to, they would suggest that I ask the “expert” or use other “resources” like our book or the Internet. After considering our options, and voting on our preferences, the kids decided to place the habitat in a small fridge in our room. Over Christmas break, Woolly Bear remained in the fridge. When we got back to school, we noticed that it had moved, not settling down under the rocks as we expected. It did not hibernate.

The woolly bear caterpillar made a cocoon inside the habitat inside the refrigerator.One day when we arrived at school, we couldn’t find Woolly Bear anywhere. We searched and searched. Finally, we noticed a hairy, brown cocoon on the bottom of a leaf. We were so excited! The students again made three-dimensional models of Woolly Bear, this time in the cocoon stage. In anticipation of its metamorphosis, we made a new habitat using laundry hampers with ample space for a moth to fly around. We waited and waited and waited.

Twelve days later, we noticed a tiny hole at one end of the cocoon. Searching around our makeshift terrarium, we found our Isabella Tiger Moth! The students shared fresh fruit from their lunches for the moth to drink the juice, observed its behavior, made new 3D models of this life stage, and wondered what would happen next. In preparation for what I knew was coming quickly (Woolly Bear’s death), I talked a lot to my students about how moths only live for a short time. Three days later, we found Woolly Bear face up, wings spread. Although our Isabella Tiger moth had died, the kids were thrilled to learn that our caterpillar was a girl; she had laid eggs! In the corner of our habitat there were about fifty eggs, almost too tiny to pick up, but perfect for viewing under a microscope. Through research, we learned the eggs were sterile; two of these moths are needed to make new woolly bears.

As our journey came to an end, we made models of the eggs and added all of our models to life cycle mobiles. We disassembled our habitats and discussed all we had learned. From new vocabulary and knowledge of life cycles to different types of habitats and the process of scientific inquiry, following my student’s interest led to deep, multifaceted learning, and it expanded my comfort zone!

 

 

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Collaborating to Collect Data

In this video, columnists Ben Smith and Jared Mader share information from their Science 2.0 column, “Collaborative Data Collection,” that appeared in a recent issue of The Science Teacher. Read the article here: http://bit.ly/1B0g6Zr

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It’s All About the Hashtag for @2footgiraffe

Hi, Social Media at NSTA? Oops, I mean #NSTA. Double oops, I mean #NSTA15. It’s all about the hashtag. Want to see what happened at #NSTA15? Well, go to Twitter, Instagram, or Vine and search the hashtag. Yes, there are pictures and funny videos being shared. However, there is much more than images and jokes. Sharing through social media can be powerful even if you only have 140 characters.

Twitter: Did you know some of the talks about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are on iTunes? Thanks to David Grossman @tkSciGuy I now know.

Tweet from David Grossman

Instagram image from the conferenceInstagram can be used to document learning, share images with unlimited space for captions, and even record 15 seconds of video. Scott Sowers ( got some awesome images from Chicago, like the one to the right.

Vine is a social media tool that can to time lapse-video and 6.5 second power clips. Check out this hypnotic jellyfish vine from EiC. Six seconds may not seem like a lot but check out what you can do.

As you can see from the social media posts above, connections, resources, and ideas are being shared. There is no limit to the potential of social media.

What about for education? Yes! Social media can be used to help teachers and students learn, communicate, and collaborate. As a science teacher I have found Twitter to be incredibly beneficial when trying to connect with experts outside the physical structure of the school. Students and I have connected with shark scientists, physicists, herpetologists, mammalogists, cancer researchers, microbiologists, and volcanologists. I can list a dozen more. It is  difficult for scientists to get out of the lab and visit the classroom. Especially if the lab, research location, or field site is thousands of miles away. Twitter can bridge that gap which can then lead to other options like video conferences through Google Hangouts On Air or Skype.

Once in a while these connections lead to more than just conversations. My colleague Tricia Shelton @tdishelton had a student receive funding from one of the science groups for a research project as a result of connections through social media. This particular connection was the result of a monthly Twitter chat called #SciStuChat—details at scistuchat.com. The second Thursday of each month we host an organized discussion with high school students and scientists. Student moderators write the questions for a chosen topic. Students and scientists join together to answer the questions. Scientists also help dispel misconceptions. Sometimes the conversations between scientists and students will continue the next day depending on questions students generate after the hour chat.

There isn’t a PG-rated app that can’t be used for education (i.e., every PG-rated app can be used in education in some way). Yes, a teacher might need to get creative but that is part of the challenge.  Twitter, Vine, Instagram are a few examples.

If you are skeptical go to twitter.com/search then look up some of the people on this list of scientists. After some investigation, if you feel Twitter might have value in your classroom or for you personally, then check out www.connectthinklearn.com/connected-educator-support.html for support. You can also visit www.ngsspln.com/ngsschat.html.

Author Adam Taylor teaches at Dickson County High School; reach him on Twitter @2footgiraffe.

 Adam Taylor with Flat Fred

To see more from the 2015 National Conference on Science Education in Chicago, March 12-15, please view the #NSTA15 Facebook Album—and if you see yourself, please tag yourself!

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2015 STEM Forum & Expo

2015 Area Conferences

Follow NSTA

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#NSTA15 | Your Science Teaching Superpower


Chicago. I have arrived.  One of us will not be the same after this. #NSTA15
@porchdragon, March 11, 2015


Neil Shubin speaking to science teachers at the 2015 National Conference on Science Education in ChicagoNSTA conferences are where science teachers transform into learners for a week. This year the theme of transformation was ubiquitous–even the river turned green for a day! Keynote Neil Shubin walked us through the evolution of humans and brought out the Inner Fish in all of us. And an entire day was devoted to the Next Generation Science Standards, giving attendees a firm grasp on the amazing new ways science is learned and taught.

tweet about Bill NyeWho was there? Everyone from Bill Nye to the Geico Gecko. And they came from as far away as China and New Zealand. In fact, the day before the conference started, a team of international educators met for the 10th Annual NSTA Global Conversations in Science Education Conference.

If they couldn’t be there in person, teachers used their true super power (ingenuity) to find ways to join us virtually. They embodied one of my favorite quotes from the conference. Neil Shubin said “Science is Teamwork; Science is Collaboration.”tweet about flat fred And collaborate they did! A live #NGSSchat via Twitter brought together a strong professional learning network that included dozens of people, both in person and online.

One NSTA member was so dismayed to miss the conference that he defied all known laws of science and morphed into a 2D version of himself and allowed complete strangers to tote him from session to session. Flat Fred was popular, but who was attendees’ favorite celebrity of the conference? According to our survey results, it was Bill Nye, with the Penguin coming in a close second.

To read more about the social media sharing and virtual learning that happened at the conference, read what Adam Taylor (@2footgiraffe) has to say in his new blog post: It’s All About the Hashtag for @2footgiraffe.

Arne Duncan meeting with science teachers at the 2015 NSTA National Conference on Science EducationSticking with the theme of collaboration, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came to meet with a panel of teachers. He said he was happy to be home in Chicago and told attendees: “You’re not just teaching, you’re transforming students’ lives.” And he turned into a learner for the day–attentively taking notes and listening as the teachers expressed their hopes for the future and shared the very difficult challenges they face daily in their professional lives.

Fascinating stories were everywhere last week. The New York Times declared Saturday, March 14, to be the Pi day of the century. NSTA TV captured the personal messages of many of our speakers, leadership, and sponsors. Watch here to see interviews with Bill Nye; Chandra James, Schmitty the Weather DogDirector of Science for Chicago Public Schools; the “100% of our kids are going to college” team at Seton Hall University; and other inspiring thought leaders in STEM education. Education Week reporter wrote a great article about the NGSS representing “a shift from learning about something to figuring out something” (Teaching the Next Generation Science Standards With ‘Mysteries’). Not all the stories were told by humans last week, though. Not to be missed was an intrepid little dog named Schmitty the Weather Dog who braved the elements daily to report on the weather.

Not everything new had to be experienced in Chicago. Four NSTA Press books were unveiled at the conference–The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations (by Julie V. McGough and Lisa M. Nyberg); The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Creating Teachable Moments (by Rodger W. Bybee); Reimagining the Science Department (by Wayne Melville, Doug Jones, and Todd Campbell); and Earth Science Success, 2nd Edition: 55 Tablet-Ready, Notebook-Based Lessons (by Catherine Oates-Bockenstedt and Michael Oates). Those onsite got to meet the authors and be the first to page through these gems; but they’re available to all and have free chapters you can review.

4 new book covers

Extending the Experience

Arne Duncan with teachersThe exhibit hall, a perennial favorite, turned ordinary educators into STEM stars. They came, they played, they tested new products, and they walked away enthused, their minds bursting with smart ideas and their arms loaded with goodies. In her advice for first-time attendees, NSTA’s Miss Mentor recommends bringing an empty suitcase to take home exhibit hall swag–and she was right; giveaways ranged from bird feeders to t-shirts.

Some of these changes happen on the scene, when people see themselves in a new light. But some of the long-term projects that attendees connect with at our conferences (such as ExploraVision, eCYBERMISSION, and the Chevron-supported NSTA Administrators Initiative) are the result of strong, forward-thinking partnerships forged by strong ties with the community, government, and corporations.

conference organizers cutting the ribbonWho is responsible for this mind-blowing extravaganza? A hard-working conference staff at NSTA to be sure. But the secret sauce comes from the local committee, sponsors, organizers, conference planners, and the many other people who work for more than a year in advance to bring together sessions and speakers that will meet the needs of science teachers.

river turning green in ChicagoWant to help us improve the process? Growth and transformation are something we want to foster continually, so we invite attendees to take a moment to fill out an evaluation of their session(s). Follow these instructions, and once you’ve evaluated your session(s), you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle!

What was your favorite part of #NSTA15 Chicago? Please leave us a comment and let us know!

To see more from the 2015 National Conference on Science Education in Chicago, March 12-15, please view the #NSTA15 Facebook Album—and if you see yourself, please tag yourself!

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2015 STEM Forum & Expo

2015 Area Conferences

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