Posts Tagged ‘Convention’

Greetings from the Boston NSTA Conference!

It was so wonderful meeting with many inspiring science educators from the world at this week’s National Science Teachers Convention in Boston, MA!


In addition to attending workshops and scouring the expo floor for ideas and resources, I presented two workshops, one on National Board Certification and another entitled “Full STEAM Ahead” on integrating art into STEM education. Click on the “NSTA WORKSHOPS” header at the top of the page to access the presentations and resource pages from my workshops.


04 2014

Takeaways from The NSTA Convention – Part 1

IMG_0260The National Science Teachers Association annual convention is a 4-day exhibition of the latest and greatest in science teaching. From workshops and presentations (the details of which fill a phonebook-sized guide!) to an exhibit hall packed with vendors and exhibitors, I always find the convention to be a wealth of information and ideas. In this series of posts, I’ll be sharing my favorite takeaways from the 2013 event.


At the tinkering and making events I’ve attended over the past several years, I’ve heard countless people share how they’ve used Arduino both in their own projects and in the classroom. Arduino is an open-source micro-controller (think small computer chip with sensors and LEDs) that are programmable with a C++ esque language. At a workshop offered by exhibitor SparkFun Electronics, I had my first opportunity to play in Arduino. Within minutes, I was programming an RGB LED to blink in different colors in response to different light levels detected by a built-in light sensor on the board. I believe the incredible potential for Arduino in the classroom lies in its being easy to get started using while still having incredible potential for advanced projects. As with any computer programming implementation in the classroom, SparkFun and Arduino offer opportunities for students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.

10311-01bWhile incredibly easy to pick up, the Arduino programming language may challenging for younger students – I’d readily teach it to my 6th grade students but I am concerned that the syntax might not be accessible to the 3rd and 4th grade students I’ll be teaching in a maker camp this summer. Enter the SparkFun PicoBoard – an external board and set of sensors that interface with Scratch, the visual programming software developed by MIT. Instead of having to write code, programmers drag programming blocks into chains to create and control animated “sprites.” For example, a student might create an animated cat that closes its eyes when lights in the room are too bright or that runs off the screen when it hears a loud sound (light and sound are sensed by the PicoBoard – readings are then used to control the on-screen animation). I’d recommend starting by playing around with the free Scratch software (version 2.0 to be released soon!) and then adding a PicoBoard when you and your are ready for more complicated programming and animating.

More updates from the NSTA Convention to follow. Stay tuned!

Full disclosure: I received a free SparkFun ProtoSnap as an attendee of their NSTA Workshop. I was under no obligation to use or review this product and receive no compensation from SparkFun for this posting or for any of the links included in this blog.”



04 2013

Deep in the heart of SCIENCE!

San Antonio Convention CenterI’ve just wrapped up my second day at the National Science Teachers Convention in San Antonio, TX. The buzz of the conference has been the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were just released this week. Developed by scientific education organizations in partnership with 26 states, the standards seed to define 21st century science education.  The NGSS establish learning expectations for students that integrate three important foci—science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts—outlining science and engineering concepts from kindergarten through 12th grade. The new standards are available at

Stay tuned for updates from the conference… from animatronic toy dissections to Arduino boards and sewn circuits to iPad microscopes I have tons to share!


04 2013

NSTA Conference Day Two

Sea World Penguins at the NSTA Conference in San FranciscoIn addition to the nearly 15,000 teachers who made it to San Francisco for the NSTA Convention, two avian members of the Sea World education team found their way into the exhibit hall. They were the stars of one of hundreds of exhibits in the exposition hall. I was particularly fascinated seeing the penguins’ tiny feathers up from only a few inches away. They are incredibly small, shiny, and densely packed… as many 100 per square inch!

Today being my only day to explore the conference without having to present a workshop, I took the opportunity to explore the exhibit hall looking for new resources and ideas to bring back to my classroom. From an interactive anatomy model to a 360 degree Earth Projector to a construction kit that allows students to build three different types of renewable energy vehicles, the room was filled with creative new ways to engage students. I’m off to finish my preparation for tomorrow’s workshop, but will be sharing photos of and links to the many amazing resources I discovered in the coming days.


03 2011

NSTA Conference Day One

Day one of the NSTA conference is over and I already find myself energized with ideas and resources. I presented two of my three workshops today (including one in which my workshop was up against one by Bill Nye… and still had great attendance). One highlight of my Big Macs & Healthy Teens workshop occurred after my presentation while talking with a group of teachers visiting from Brazil. They shared some of their school’s work promoting healthy eating by redesigning their school lunch program around celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s work with childhood nutrition. You can find more info about Oliver’s work with school lunches here in the U.S. at Food Revolution website.

I’m looking forward to exploring more workshops and exhibits tomorrow! I’m gathering resources that I’ll be blogging about at the end of the conference. Stay tuned!


03 2011