June 2, 2013 by Dr. G
Reflection is not just something I have my students do after hearing guest speakers or completing major projects. It is an exercise I have begun instituting for myself, especially after conferences and professional development opportunities. So, what I have learned from the NAGT-ES conference?
First, I learned how much I like detailed and accurate conference programs and agendas. There were only three presentations listed for this conference, and two of the three were cancelled – after I arrived at the conference. For the one presentation that did occur, the start time was not listed as 6PM but 7PM – causing some people to arrive late and miss the presentation. The descriptions for the fieldtrips were not as detailed nor as accurate as I would have liked – a larger description with a better choice of terms would have helped me better prepare for what I was going to see/hear/learn. This may sound like I am being nit-picky, but I paid the conference registration fee with the expectation of having the conference experience that was advertised (and I paid out of my own pocket – not with grant or university funds). Note to self – one can never provide enough details!
The fieldtrips were the main focus of the conference. Again, I can’t give enough shout-outs to the PA-DCNR staff at Tiadaghton State Forest. They did an excellent job with their presentations and taking us to the Marcellus sites. If their location wasn’t so far away from my campus, I would absolutely ask them to do the same program for my students in an instant. Too bad the state forests are so far away from Media! The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania fieldtrip was nice to see – but I do not feel that I learned much that I can take back to my classroom. I don’t know if I would bring students to this site, but I would be interested in visiting Leonard Harrison State Park again if I was in the area in the future, just to do the hike down to the river.
I found it interesting that after the speaker about digital photogrammetry, the questions from the meeting participants for the speaker focused on careers in photogrammetry, what courses to take in school, and how we could share this information in our classrooms. I think that might be the biggest component missing from the conference. As this was a conference specifically for geoscience teachers, we could/should have had some rich discussions and exchanges of how to bring back what we learned to our classrooms. I know I have some ideas, but I would have liked to hear what other teachers think they might incorporate. Maybe I’ll float my suggestion to someone for next year’s conference, which will be held in northern Virginia.
The Marcellus trip alone made this conference worth it. Not only do I have a broader understand of drilling in PA and content to bring to my students, but I now have a renewed interest in exploring more of Pennsylvania’s public lands and getting out to see the contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).