Science Ambassador Blog: NSTA at Reno – A Blast for this Region III Educator

Published on: October 29, 2018

There’s only one thing more enjoyable than laughing and learning with my fellow teachers, and this is laughing and learning with my fellow SCIENCE teachers!  What an inspiring educational experience.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to attend such a wonderful event.

It was fitting to start the conference with our keynote speaker, Shah Selbe, a National Geographic Explorer and Fellow.  Shah is an engineer who has traveled the world to find solutions to some very difficult problems.  He is also the founder of the nonprofit company, Conservify, whose fundamental principle is designing and creating technological machinery  that have a direct and timely benefit for the environment.  One essential part of Conservify’s master plan is that once their prototypes have collected the necessary data, it is immediately downloaded for all to view.  This “Open-Source” technology is essential in making environmental decisions using the most current and reliable data. Additionally, his photos were beautiful and the stories were engaging.

Conference Sessions:

There is never enough hours in the day to sit-in on all of the tantalizing sessions, but I would like to share about some that I did attend.

Selecting Phenomena to Motivate Student Sensemaking

Selecting Phenomena to Motivate Student Sensemaking with NSTA’s Standards Implementation Specialist, Tricia Shelton.  What is an anchor Phenomena?  It must be puzzling and meaningful.  Something that comprehensible and hooks the student’s interest. It requires a complexity that can blanket a number of lessons and stimulate students’ thinking. And it must be something observable about an event, object, or activity.

How does phenomena fit in with the NGSS game-plan?  Essentially the flow is something like this:  Performance Expectations —DCI — Phenomena.  The practices that interact with the phenomena — Cross-cutting concepts (the lens that the student will use to study the phenomena.)

Developing Assessments to Advance Three-Dimensional Classroom Culture

While this three-hour seminar was at times intimidating, I found it to be insightful and guiding. It’s common for me, when attempting to find pertinent phenomena, that I become paralyzed long enough that I simply do nothing.  I hope now, with a bit more direction, I can toss the fear and insecurities and give it a whirl.

By the way, a phenomenon does not have to be something grandiose.  It can be a anything that occurs in the natural world.  It can be a target question, scenario, something that is puzzling, and engineering problem, data sets, a discrepant event, etc.

NOAA’s Education Website

Looking for real-time data?  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Education website is the place to go.  I cannot begin to share all the resources available to teachers.  My suggestion is simply to look around.  Additionally, we have all been encouraged to submit educational ideas and lessons that we would like for them to address.  I have to say, there are many intelligent, passionate folks working to help provide resources that can excite both students and teachers.  Check out their website!

Vernier Sensors

I have used Vernier sensors for at least ten-years.  They are rugged and do the job quite well.  So why would I visit Vernier’s session to listen to their vendors?  It’s simple, everything is wireless now.  Wow, talk about simple to use.  Just this one shift to wireless has truly allowed Vernier data collection to be affordable through our yearly budgets.  These sensors will work on iPads, Chromebooks, SMART phones, Mac and Windows laptops, etc.

What am I going to do about my old, outdated data-loggers and sensors?  I’m thinking of purchasing some dongle-like wireless adapters.  Love it!

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