Saturday, November 9, 2013

NSTA Regional Conference 2013

I had the privilege to attend the 2013 NSTA Regional Conference in Charlotte, NC this past Thursday through Saturday with Dr. Catoe, Mrs. Kim Parker (fourth grade STEMS), Ms. Audrey Andrieski (second grade STEMS), Mr. Andy Barbone (Principal at Summit), and Mrs. Dea Jones (Lead Teacher for SIDI).

Danny Forster, a global architect expert and host of Discovery Channel's, Build it Bigger, spoke and shared some of his experiences.  Interestingly enough, Danny struggled in school, but found his passion later in a high school science class.  Danny went on to share that there is more to architecture than just designing and building.  There are factors such as history, religion, emotion, geology, and more that go into the design of a building or structure.  Danny combined a love for architecture with communications and television to establish a very interesting and fulfilling career.

Later in the conference, I had a chance to join a session presented by a couple of authors of the Exemplary Science Program book series.  It was interesting to listen to their experiences in establishing STEM schools and preparing aspiring teachers to teach science.

I purchased the Robert Yager's book entitled, Exemplary Science for Building Interest in STEM Careers.  I began reading the first few chapters while I was here.  There is a big emphasis on changing the way we teach science in the standard science classroom.  Of course, there is a lot of talk about the Next Generation Science Standards.  More importantly, is the fact that we must change the way we teach science standards.  For example, instead of teaching information from a scripted textbook or cookbook science experiment program, we must tap into the interests, strengths, experiences, and needs of the students.  We also must incorporate the skills and tasks expected with the implementation of the Common Core Standards in ELA and math.
Gizmo

In addition to the sessions and keynote speakers, the exhibitors were of interest to us as well.  We talked with representatives from eLearning which sells the license to Gizmos, an online interactive way for students to experience science.  We also talked with Camp Invention representatives to look at the possibility of bringing a one week science camp to our school this summer.  If all goes well, we may consider an after school club program as well.  Lastly, we had a conversation with the folks who sell the StarLab systems.  We are talking with Ed Emmer about updating our StarLab to a digital version.  Yes, we have a Star Lab.  If you would like more information about using it, check with Nikki or Audrey.

Overall, the conference has reiterated the fact that we need to be focused on teaching our boys and girls through active science inquiry each day.  As a STEM school, it is important that our students especially are being exposed to science throughout the day with an emphasis on engineering.  However, with the way the Common Core Standards are written and how these standards have changed the way we teach, I believe that every classroom should have a focus on the sciences.  Science, technology, engineering, and math are important topics for everyone.  We are fortunate enough at NSE to have a focus on these topics at our school.  I encourage all of our teachers to share ideas, projects, lessons, units of study that emphasize STEM topics and careers with everyone.  

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