September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Science Geek Vacation – Be There!

Posted: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

In the last issue of CCS, Greg Potter shared some ideas about how to become the best science teacher that you can be. His recommendation that you attend professional conferences is a great one and, luckily, the next opportunity is right around the corner. On October 25-27, CSTA will be hosting the California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. If you have never been to a science teachers’ conference, this one is going to offer you more in three days than many methods classes can offer in a full quarter or semester. To sweeten the deal, there is a special reduced price for CSTA Student Member conference registration.

The California Science Education Conference will be three days of non-stop workshops, field courses, short courses, exhibitors, and events all focused on science education. As a supervisor of science education, I encourage my students to attend. Despite the fact that it is a full day’s drive from Northern California, it is worth every minute of the experience. There are very few opportunities so close to home where you can immerse yourself in science education as completely as you can while attending this conference.

Everything at the conference will have a California focus. For the price of registration there will be workshop sessions, focus speakers on special topics, and keynote speakers on hot topics in science education. There are evening events and an exhibit hall with many of the top vendors of science equipment, supplies, text materials and enrichment opportunities. When you check the online conference program, you will see workshops and session on integrating the California Common Core Standards, both Math and English Language Arts in science classes, as well as sessions about NGSS. There will be strands of workshops focused on life science, physical science, environmental science, biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space science. There is a good mix of sessions focused on science teaching in primary grades and upper elementary, middle school, and high school. There are even a few sessions that will appeal to college or university faculty. If that is not enough, there are workshops focused on engineering, cross-disciplinary teaching, pedagogy, classroom management, teaching with data, and even project-based learning.

Short courses (three-hour programs) and field courses (off-site programs), are both available for an extra charge. All in all, the California Science Education Conference is your go-to place for a booster shot on science and science education. While you are there, watch for special events specifically for preservice teachers and opportunities for preservice teachers to meet and greet. My students have found that one of the very best things that they take away from the conference is their interactions with preservice teachers from other programs. Meeting others in the same situation that you are is a great way to gain a better understanding of your place in the future of science education in California.

My students often ask for advice on what to do or how to negotiate the conference. Having attended this conference for many years, I always make the following recommendations: Wear comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing. The conference is a reasonably relaxed atmosphere where everyone is on a science “geek” vacation. Make sure that you bring business cards or stickers with your name, school address, and email address on them. There will be many opportunities to enter drawings and request information from exhibitors, presenters, and speakers during the conference and it is much easier to have a card or mailing sticker with this information than to have to write it out every time. Look at the program and plan your experience in advance.

When you plan your schedule, try to have two or three possible choices for each session time. Go to the session that interests you the most. If after you arrive you find that it is not what you were expecting, it is ok to get up and leave and go to another session. If you do this, leave quietly and enter quietly. Put your cell phone on silent and if you get a call, go out in the hall to talk. Take an extra duffle bag or suitcase to pack your swag for the trip home. There will be lots of samples and cool things that new teachers can use. If you are driving, you might consider bringing a mailing tube about 1 meter long. This will be great for making sure that any posters or maps that you get arrive back at home without being squished or folded. Don’t feel obligated to sign up for and pay for short courses this first time you attend the conference. There are plenty of free workshops for you to attend this year. Next year when you have a paid teaching position, sign up for some of those (of course if your school or some other organization is paying for our attendance, go ahead and sign up if you want). Try to make it to the evening events. These will be great places to socialize with lots of other preservice and in-service teachers alike. On Friday night, there will be a ticketed event at the Renaissance. It is a combination pool party and cardboard boat contest. This one is definitely worth the price of admission ($10 – and includes $10 worth of food). Finally, go and have a good time. I tell my students that this is a very acceptable reason for taking a day off from student teaching. Attendance at professional conferences is sign of a committed educator and an opportunity that should not be missed.

I am looking forward to the conference. Feel free to find me while you are there and let me know about your conference experience. As past president of CSTA and a member of the conference planning committee, I am very interested in hearing your opinions.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

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Written by Jill Grace

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Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

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Written by Peter AHearn

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