NSTA Conference


National Science Teacher Assocation Regional Conference

On December 3-5 science teachers across the region congregated at Kansas City Convention Center to discuss current science practices and upcoming changes in the science community.

Here are the reflections from some members of the ESMS Science Department.

Debbie Gatrel

One of the best sessions that I attended at the NSTA conference was “A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning”. Brett Moulding, Director of Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning, was the presenter. He emphasized that student performance expectations should use all three dimensions of NGSS, which include Science & Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts. Students should not be asked to just learn about science, but they should be ENGAGED in science performances. It’s not about teaching students to LEARN core ideas, but about having students USE core ideas to explain phenomenon.

  • Engage students by presenting a phenomenon.

    • (Clouds appear to form in patterns in the sky)

  • Students formulate questions about it.

  • Then they gather information/research.

  • Evaluate / reason about their findings.

  • Communicate/ model the results

Candace Johnson

Out of all the sessions I attended over the three days at the NSTA conference two really stick out in my mind. The first was Zombie Apocalypse sponsored by Texas Instruments. The Zombie Apocalypse sparked an interest and I honestly was just expecting a sales pitch. While it was a sales pitch, it was also so much more. TI was using their new tech and popular culture to combine standards in a number of different ways. They covered diseases (science), finding slope (math), and reading a possible infection scenario (ELA). The Zombie Apocalypse was eye-opening as it showed how easy it is to incorporate a number of different standards into to one lesson. This is important as we move towards the Next Generation Science Standards, which stresses combining subjects into every area.

The second was Integrating Technology into the Inquiry-Based Classroom. This session was presented by two individuals from John Thomas School of Discovery in Nixa, MO. The school is in the process of moving towards 1:1, but has the reputation of being a very tech forward school. They shared a few ways that they are including technology to help with inquiry at their school, many of which we are currently also using. The largest take away from them wasn’t an app or a project but a quote that they shared:

“When information and expertise are no longer scarce, teachers must offer a different experience in the classroom if students are to engage”-Unknown

This really hit home as something that we need try to accomplish. Our students can get their information in so many ways, but it’s up to us to be engaging and relevant so they want to get it from us.

Kelsie Biebighauser

NSTA was an amazing conference to attend. This year's conference focused on the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and how to implement them. My big takeaway comes from a presenter who was also my college professor. It was said that NGSS can't be implemented solely with a great curriculum, we need to encourage students to do science! This means our students need an expert in science who will DO science with them. As a science teacher, it was shown to me over and over in this conference that we need to move away from getting students to have the "right answer." NGSS is about students learning how to do science! What this means for the classroom is that we need to stop perfecting our labs. You know our concept labs that we have perfected to fit into our two day time slot? Well, it turns out that YOU were the one actually doing the science. Your students didn't need to work out any issues and just came up with the "right answer." Science does not really work like this! We need to do science with our students, model for them what real science is and how it is messy! These labs can be done three times a year for a more in-depth science experience. However, smaller PBL units can be implemented to help create a storyline that will help us teach the NGSS content to our students. Our students can exceed our many expectations, we just need to let them. Remember, science is only fun when we have unexpected results or we learn something new.