Babafemi Ojo is a high school biology teacher. Yet his favorite booth at the National Science Teachers Association’s Philadelphia conference was the portable planetarium.
“I could see kids getting in there and being amazed,” says Ojo, who teaches at Newark Tech Essex County Vocational School in Newark, New Jersey. “The kids would ask a lot of questions.”
Science teachers had the opportunity to step inside STARLAB’s planetarium, where they could gaze at the constellations and images of the Greek myths the constellations were named after. The portable planetariums start at $32,995 and can fit in a school gymnasium or auditorium, says Sarah Bell, who works for STARLAB.
According to Bell, the planetarium is an “immersive” learning experience designed to get kids interested in science while moving them beyond textbooks. For kids, “there’s nothing cooler,” she says.
Many of the booths at the conference offered new approaches to science teaching, especially through hands-on lessons and projects.
If you were at the conference, you probably noticed Carolina Biological Supply Company’s booth, which featured numerous butterflies inside a display cage. Carolina employees were giving away butterfly larvae to educators. With the larvae, Christine Eccles, a visiting assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, who also teaches biology at a private school, hopes to spark students’ interest in the butterfly’s life cycle, saying the lesson works for grades 5–12.
Matt Esser, an eighth-grade physical science teacher, particularly enjoyed the two-liter bottle rocket launchers. They were similar to the bottle rockets he used to teach his students about Newton’s three laws. To launch the bottle rockets, teachers put water into the two liter and provide air pressure through a bicycle pump that is connected to the bottle.
Middle school science teacher Lisa Niemi says she’s always wanted to implement environmental-based instruction into her classes, but it hasn’t been included in her science curriculum. That’s why her favorite booth was Nutrients for Life Foundation’s, who gave her a free curriculum to teach environmental science.
“Kids of all ages have to care about the planet,” Niemi says.
The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.
Future NSTA Conferences
2015 Area Conferences
2016 National Conference
2016 STEM Forum & Expo