January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Your Official Guide to the California Science Education Conference

Posted: Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Laura Henriques
updated September 1, 2011

It’s only a few months until we gather together in Pasadena for the 20th CSTA Science Education Conference! The 2011 Conference Committee has been hard at work putting together a top-notch program. We know you will find the conference to be of great value to you. The conference website is a wonderful tool to help you get the most out of your conference attendance.

Where will the conference be?

The conference is in Pasadena this year. It’s our first time for us to be in the city of roses and we know it will be a great venue! The majority of the sessions will be in the Pasadena Convention Center and adjacent hotels. Once at the conference you’ll be able to walk to all the venues. The conference has a shuttle bus to bring attendees to the convention center from the more distant hotels.

The conference begins on Friday, October 21 at 8:00 AM and concludes on Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 PM.

What’s the conference format?
The conference has a variety of sessions which are bound to educate and excite you. Included with your registration is admission to approximately 200 workshops and lectures. These are one hour in length. There are a variety of workshops and your conference booklet (and the conference website) provides a bit of information about each one. After the session title and description you will be able to see how the presenter describes the focus of the session (what content area is to be addressed) and what grade level the session is most appropriate for. Sessions are presented by CSTA members (preK-16 teachers or informal science educators) or by commercial partners. You will be able to tell by looking at the book.


Gravity: The Universe’s Crazy Glue
Room 103 (Pasadena Convention Center)
Discover what holds our universe together–gravity! Attendees become inquiring scientist as they replicate Galileo’s Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment using everyday objects to discover the effects of gravity. 
Earth/Space Science, Pedagogy/I&E
Kristina Atia, Pacific Elementary School
3, 4, 5


Using the description above, you can see that this session is presented by an elementary teacher and it’s most appropriate for 3rd through 5th grade classes. The content is from the earth/space science standards and the focus of the session is pedagogy/investigation & experimentation.

All workshop proposals were blind reviewed by two committee members. The conference committee did its best to select high quality sessions which cover the grade level continuum and provide sufficient options for all content areas. In addition to science content, there are also sessions related to science teaching strategies, research in science education, and new opportunities for teachers.

There are also lectures by invited presenters. These hour-long sessions are called Focus Speaker sessions. These address a variety of timely topics. They run at the same time as the workshops and are included in your registration fee.

Additionally, there will be two general session meetings. The Friday morning General Session will feature Jim Brazell. The closing session on Sunday is by Ed Begley, Jr. – a pioneer in environmental living.

Your conference registration also includes admission into the exhibit hall (be sure to plan your schedule in such a way that you get to spend time there!) and the evening events.

The conference also has short courses and field courses. As their names imply, the short courses are mini-classes on a single topic. There is a fee associated with the short courses and they require pre-registration (on-site registration is allowed if space is available). The field courses are off-site. Like the short courses they require a fee and pre-registration. The short courses and field courses run throughout the conference. It’s important to note what time the short courses and field courses are scheduled if you have your eye on a particular workshop.

What to do at night?
We have a few special treats planned for the evenings. On Friday night we’ll be showing the movie The Angry Red Planet. This will follow a discussion about our fascination with Mars and the ways in which movie makers have consistently spread misconceptions! Before the movie you can “do dinner” with new friends. We have arranged for a Dine-About Pasadena program where you sign up to eat at a restaurant. This is a great option for those of you attending the conference alone and those of you looking to meet colleagues!

Saturday night’s event includes a panel discussion entitled Sharing Science Through Art, Vision, and Creativity. The panel includes the artist and naturalist Wyland and science exhibit curators who educate the public about science through art. Many of you know Wyland’s work (think large scale paintings of whales and ocean life on the sides of buildings). This special event is not to be missed!

2011 Conference Logo

Conference Website
The conference website is an amazing tool! Savvy attendees will visit the website well in advance of their arrival in Pasadena. You can search the entire program and plan which sessions you want to attend before leaving home! The workshop page allows you to search by grade level, content area or session type. If you know the name of some good presenters you can search by their name. You can even download the entire conference program in an excel spreadsheet.

You will get the most out of your time in Pasadena if you have done a little homework ahead of time. Figure out what sessions you want to attend and make a plan! Be sure to include time to visit the exhibit hall and opportunities to network with colleagues.

What to bring?

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Space in your suitcase for materials from the exhibit hall
  • Backpack/bag/rolling cart to hold all the fun stuff you’ll get from sessions and the exhibit hall
  • Snacks to keep you going during the day
  • Pen/paper to take notes during sessions
  • Business cards and/or Address labels (with your name, school address, and e-mail)
  • Sticky notes so you can take notes during sessions without writing on hand-outs and to mark sessions in your conference book

How to register?
You can register now! Pre-registration is less expensive than on-site registration, but both are viable options. Click here to register.

As we put on the finishing touches to the conference we will update the conference website. Please join us as we celebrate 20 years of CSTA conferences. The Science Education Conference is the ideal way for you to get new ideas for your teaching and re-energize and re-educate yourself. You owe it to your students and yourself to attend.

See you in Pasadena!

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach, the co-chair of the 2011 California Science Education Conference Committee, and president-elect of CSTA.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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  1. […] this is your first CSTA conference I encourage you to read the August 2011 article entitled Your Official Guide to the California Science Education Conference. It provides information about how to select sessions, what to bring and what to wear.  I also […]

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