NSTA Conferences: Professional Learning and So Much More

Editor’s Note:  In this blog series commemorating NSTA’s 75th Anniversary we take a look to the past with an eye to the future.

Can you imagine attending an NSTA convention over Thanksgiving weekend?!

Indeed, that was the timing of NSTA’s first regional meetings (in conjunction with NEA and AAAS), in 1944.     

However, NSTA’s first “independent” National Convention was held in 1953 with a registration of about 620 educators, representing 33 different states and 28 commercial exhibits. 

Sixty-six years later, the NSTA National Conferences boasts a registration of more than 10 times that number.  Attendees come from every state in the nation and from more than 25 different countries.  We now have more than 300 exhibiting companies!

According to many attendees, the conferences continue to provide a valuable source of professional development.  NSTA conferences are THE place to be if you want to:

  • network with like-minded colleagues;
  • obtain professional development that is specific to your grade level/interest or content area;
  • become a mentor or mentee;
  • find someone who understands and has experienced your classroom challenges;
  • hear invited speakers who are relative to what’s happening in STEM education;
  • engage, learn, and/or share best practices; or,
  • get re-energized and be reminded of the positive impact you have on so many students, every day!

Our conferences are packed with opportunities to meet and engage with other educators and administrators and spend time in an exhibit hall filled with up-to-date technology, software, lab equipment, books, and other resources that will enhance your classroom and teaching skills. Continue reading

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Podcasting in the Science Classroom

Two of Ramona Jolliffe Satre’s sixth graders at Ogden Middle School in Ogden, Iowa, review a podcast they created using an iPad. Photo courtesy of Terri Reutter

“When my students are unable to attend a field trip, I typically create a podcast, so those students can listen to what was learned. Then I post the podcast in Google Classroom, so they can access it,” says Kurtz Miller, who teaches geology, physics, and physical science at Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio. He says podcasts work well “for my upper-level, college-credit geology students because it helps them really digest and consider what was said…It gives them a firsthand account and additional information besides other students’ notes.”

Miller gets permission in advance from the speakers on the field trips to record their talks. He uses a mono digital voice recorder with built-in USB. “It costs just [less than] $50 [and] records in MP3 audio format,” he explains. “It’s an example of something a teacher without a lot of tech savvy could do, a starting point for teachers to try.”

“I first started using student-made podcasts along with a sixth-grade yearlong project about famous scientists,” says Ramona Jolliffe Satre, former fifth- and sixth-grade science teacher and now a K–12 instructional science coach for Ogden Community Schools in Ogden, Iowa. Each month, “chosen students presented orally to their class about a famous scientist in history. This usually involved a slide presentation to guide their talk. This oral presentation also involved the student using a mic to present; another learning experience.” Continue reading

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Ed News: Should Teachers Choose Their Own PD?

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This week in education news, new study finds novice teachers are more likely to end up in schools with fewer veteran co-workers; Wyoming Ed Board disagrees on the direction of the state’s proposed computer science standards; students see more success in K-12 when they tackle STEM concepts in early grades; district leaders say choice in professional development is good, but high-quality, standards-based options are necessary; researchers say the teacher shortage problem is worse than originally thought; Maryland high school graduation requirement tied to a demanding new science test; Utah parents and residents criticize proposed science standards; science teachers need to make clear to student that despite all we’ve learned, our universe remains ever mysterious; and the 100Kin10 network announced it has put more than 68,000 STEM educators into K-12 classrooms.

Study: Novice Teachers Often Face Tougher Loads Than Veteran Colleagues

Despite being less experienced in the field, newer teachers — especially those with less than two years under their belts — are often placed in more instructionally demanding classrooms, which have more disadvantaged and low-achieving students, than their veteran colleagues, a recent study finds. Read the article featured in Education DIVE.

Wyoming Ed Board Disagrees on Computer Science Standards

Discord over the direction of the state’s proposed computer science standards left the State Board of Education in a stalemate. Two motions — one to move forward with the draft standards and one to send the standards back to the Wyoming Department of Education for retooling — failed last week, leaving action on the standards in limbo. Read the article featured in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Continue reading

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Chrome-Plated Activities

Do you have any suggestions on how to use Chromebooks in middle school for more than just watching videos and reviewing material?
—A., Indiana

 

The real power of computer technology for a science classroom is in graphics, communication, calculations, creativity, and interactivity. Simulations like those at https://phet.colorado.edu/ allow you to augment lessons that would otherwise be impossible to perform in class. They differ from videos in that the students can actively participate by manipulating variables.

An excellent teaching tool is for students to script, record, and edit their own videos which can take the form of mini-documentaries, animations, public service announcements, science shows, music videos, and so on. There are many free video-editing options available.
Communicate electronically or via print by creating presentations, wikis, blogs, brochures, posters, and comics. A very powerful way to learn something is to teach, so buddy up with a lower grade and have students create picture books or graphic novels for them.

There are many citizen science initiatives in which your class can participate and a wealth of online data that your class can download for their studies. There are online telescopes and real-time webcams that you can access to bring astronomy, ecology, and biology right to your students’ devices. You can make science investigations real and exciting by collaborating with classrooms almost anywhere in the world.

Chromebooks can also be used as scientific devices and data-loggers by attaching probes, digital microscopes, and cameras.

Hope this helps!

 

Image by ottogarcia on Pixabay

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The Week of the Young Child is April 8-12, 2019

Logo for NAEYC's Week of the Young ChildThe Week of the Young Child is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), beginning in 1971, to recognize the foundational early childhood years from birth through age 8. During this week, plan to make science explorations part of the celebration during this week. Share your plans on the NAEYC Facebook page. Use these resources from the National Science Teachers Association to help you celebrate! Continue reading

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On teaching life cycles of living things

The changes living organisms go through fascinate us (and sometimes freak us out) even if we’ve seen the process before. Early childhood educators especially feel this because every day we come to work we are fascinated by the development and growth in the children we work with.

Three groups of frog eggs in a pond.

Frog eggs in a pond.

In the spring, seasonal changes in plants and animals happen at a speed even a preschooler has the patience to observe. Seeds sprout into seedlings within a few days, the flower that was a bud yesterday is now in full bloom, and animals of all kinds are preparing the way for their young by building nests, and finding the appropriate location—pond or leaf—to lay their eggs. 

What part of these changes in plants and animals is important for children to learn about? How should we support children’s learning about the changes that we think are important? Continue reading

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NSTA’s 75th: Celebrating the Past, Educating for the Future

Editors Note: Today in this blog series commemorating NSTA’s 75th Anniversary we celebrate the many stakeholders who work hard every day so that ALL students are engaged in science learning and who have helped NSTA to become a dedicated advocate for science education and a leading influencer on science and STEM teaching and learning nationwide. 

The importance of science teaching and science learning has always been the driving focus of NSTA.

As we celebrate our 75th anniversary and look to the past with an eye to the future, it is an ideal time to reflect on the vital contributions made by our exhibitors, advertisers and sponsors. 

Whether they have been supporting NSTA for decades or recently discovered how incredible and diverse our audience is, our vendor community deserves praise and respect for their consistent support of the Association and its members.  Their vital support has enabled NSTA to produce award-winning conferences, programs, and publications which has truly had an impact on millions of teachers and students over the past 75 years.

Can you imagine an NSTA conference without the excitement and energy of the exhibit hall?  It sure would be a lot less fun! 

Have questions about new ways to teach or convey an idea – who better to learn from than those thought leaders who are helping to create the materials and equipment used in schools worldwide?  Our vendor community spends incredible amounts of time researching, testing, and prototyping new products and services.  Most have teams of educators guiding these developments and ensuring the highest level of quality is being produced.  Their tremendous efforts in developing, creating and supplying ever-evolving tools and resources to keep students engaged, learning, and growing with a changing world is to be lauded.

NSTA’s vendors are passionate supporters and proponents for effective science and STEM education. They regularly contribute products and prizes, sponsor numerous events, and freely share their thoughts and solutions on how to increase student learning. 

NSTA is thankful to have the support of such a dynamic group and we look forward to the 67th Annual NSTA National Conference on Science Education in St. Louis, MO just around the corner – and the jam-packed exhibit hall waiting for attendees.  Please make sure to take the time to let your favorite vendors know they’re appreciated because without them, we wouldn’t be able to achieve all that we have thus far.

Future NSTA Conferences

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


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Ed News: Teachers Need More Pay, Not Merit Pay

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This week in education news, Title IV-A Coalition opposes President Trump’s plan to pull the plug on $1.2 billion block grant; research-practitioner partnerships across the country work to improve the quality of teachers who enter the teaching workforce; Deans for Impact launches new initiative that will focus on better preparing future teachers to incorporate cognitive science into their practice; hoping to fill empty factory jobs and reach across the aisle, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association pushes a plan to waive tuition at state universities to students who will stay around and teach STEM; robotics is an ideal STEM learning experience; Alabama Senate passes legislation to repeal common core; and science is the new black.

Coalition Opposes President’s Plan to Pull the Plug on This $1.2 Billion Block Grant

President Donald Trump’s 2020 proposed $64 billion education budget eliminates funding for the Title IV-A block grant, and a coalition of 35 organizations—many prominent in K-12 education—is fighting back. Read the article featured in EdWeek Market Brief.

Taking the Guesswork Out of Teacher Hiring

Imagine a world where school districts’ hiring departments can predict the longevity and effectiveness of a teacher before she steps foot into a classroom. t’s a scenario that’s proved difficult to make reality, but a body of emerging research is making inroads. There are a handful of research-practitioner partnerships across the country working to improve teacher hiring through a strategic approach to job interviews, recommendations, and resume screenings. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Continue reading

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Building STEM Ecosystems: Community Partnerships

When I was a classroom teacher, I relished opportunities to connect my high school biology students to real world science and applications of their textbook science. Now, in the informal sector, I find my role reversed, and I get to collaborate with classroom teachers and local districts, supporting their efforts to help STEM come alive.  The science classroom, the administration office, local industry, the informal sector – these are all parts of the STEM ecosystem, and, as with any ecosystem, each component plays a key role! That’s why at this year’s STEM Forum, we’re offering a new strand — Building STEM Ecosystems: Community Partnerships. This strand will highlight effective partnerships and collaborations between community, business/industry, museums, zoos, gardens and technology centers, afterschool programs, homeschool groups and education-focused entities with preK–16 schools and universities and home school groups. This strand will support teachers, informal institutions, community representatives and school administrators. We’ll explore how district leaders have effectively leveraged external support for STEM programs within their schools or districts. 

I look forward to your examples of contributing to a healthy STEM ecosystem, and to seeing you at the 2019 STEM Forum July 24—26 in San Francisco!


The 8th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA, is a unique, focused event that brings together (informal and formal) educators and representatives from exhibiting companies who are interested in, and who have tools and resources to share that will ensure successful implementation of STEM education into our schools and communities. It is intended to provide resources for educators and organizations seeking to learn more about STEM education, associated outreach programs, partnerships, schools, and curricula.

Future NSTA Conferences

2019 National Conference
St. Louis, April 11–14

2019 STEM Forum & Expo
San Francisco, July 24–26

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

Follow NSTA

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High School Teachers, The STEM Forum & Expo is for You

Teachers at the high school level expose students to learning that is applicable for college and career readiness. At the STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA, attendees will experience this STEM pipeline firsthand. STEM educators at the high school level can participate in hands-on workshops with activities to replicate in their own districts, and gain innovative ideas from peers and exhibitors.  Workshops are relevant, high interest, and easy to replicate. Panel discussions about the STEM pipeline will help focus your passion for STEM education to these pathways. Attendees will learn how to add more STEM classes and activities across the curriculum from presenters who demonstrate applications of science, computer science and robotics, industrial technology, engineering, and math.

An important theme of the high school strand is solving community problems, both in lessons and panels. Each attendee will leave with a new inspiration for involving their communities in STEM education, and knowledge of workforce needs across the nation.    

There is something to meet everyone’s needs in the high school strand offerings.  High school STEM leaders will gain knowledge to support the specialized responsibility they have in their districts to make decisions on curriculum, assessment, professional development, and community outreach. Participants and attendees alike will share their research findings with others in their field, learn what others are doing in STEM leading to new ideas for your learning community, meet like-minded people and find new opportunities to collaborate, and have fun! Attendees are encouraged to make connections with presenters, peers, and exhibitors for future collaboration and advice, and to come up with new ideas to present at next year’s Forum!


The 8th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA, is a unique, focused event that brings together (informal and formal) educators and representatives from exhibiting companies who are interested in, and who have tools and resources to share that will ensure successful implementation of STEM education into our schools and communities. It is intended to provide resources for educators and organizations seeking to learn more about STEM education, associated outreach programs, partnerships, schools, and curricula.

Future NSTA Conferences

2019 STEM Forum & Expo
San Francisco, July 24–26

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

Follow NSTA

Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Pinterest icon G+ icon YouTube icon Instagram icon

 

 

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