October 27, 2013 by Dr. G
So, it didn’t take too long for me to get frustrated about there being so many great sessions and activities, but only so many hours in a day! I would love to have listened to the talks during the 125 Years of Exploration and Geoscience with GSA and the National Geographic Society session this morning, and I wish I could have watched the screening of the film Manufactured Landscapes (alas, I guess I will have to settle for Edward Burtynsky’s TED video until I can grab a copy of the film to watch). And then there were three different receptions going on at the same time this evening I wanted to attend… ugh! (and did I mention that it is Game 4 in the World Series this evening? Go Sox!)
I spent the morning in one session titled The New K-12 Next Generation Science Standards I. This session had eleven talks (15 minutes each in length) and one 15-minute discussion that addressed – you guessed it – the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), “a multi-state effort to create new education standards that are rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education.” The first link in this paragraph goes to the page listing the talks and associated abstracts, so I won’t repeat all that the session covered. The most depressing fact from the session – that students will forget 90% of what they learn within 90 days of a course ending. One of the most interesting parts of the session was when a presenter gave his presentation from another part of Colorado (from Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater), connecting to our conference room through a cloud video-conferencing program called Zoom. The presenter, with his iPad, was able to show us the outcrop he was standing in front of and communicate with us via audio and video. This is a creative way of doing a “live” virtual fieldtrip and I think has a lot of application to many situations. I can’t wait to try it out!
I left the Colorado Convention Center at the end of the morning to grab some lunch. I walked down to 16th Street, a pedestrian mall in downtown Denver, and saw a long stream of people riding bicycles down the street. The bicyclists were led by none other than Miles, the mascot of the Denver Broncos (my students know what a big fan I am of mascots!). That is something I sure don’t get to see every day! Then, I was finally able to get back across the street and back to the Convention Center to see the first half of a session on Developing and Sustaining Thriving Geoscience Programs and Departments: Strategies and Examples from Two-Year and Four-Year Colleges and Universities II. I was excited to hear about the various models that two-year colleges are using for field camp experiences, and one of the talks focused on the flipped classroom. I was co-author on one of the session talks, presented by my colleague Dr. Patricia Manley from Middlebury College in Vermont, titled Undergraduate Research as a Teaching Practice: Geosciences Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research. I had to leave the session early, ironically, to attend the business meeting of GeoCUR. I’m an elected councilor with the group, and approximately 20 of my fellow councilors met to work on programming and mentoring issues relating to undergraduate research. It is always great to connect with this group, and I appreciate all of their enthusiasm and energy that each one of them has for working with undergraduate students on research projects.
I then headed to the opening reception at the Exhibit Hall, where all of the exhibitors are set up and ready to showcase their products and educational resources. The room is quite crowded on the first night, so I am going to go through all of the booths later in the meeting. I was able to connect with some more of my geoscience colleagues I had not seen since last year’s meeting, including my dissertation adviser from graduate school. And, I was able to see my second mascot for the day (but this time, I was able to get my picture with him!). Smokey Bear was hanging out in the exhibit space for the U.S. Forest Service. I’m also going to spend more time at the Subaru exhibit – not because I need another Subaru (I love my Forester), but because of the Leave No Trace campaign they are promoting this year.
Tomorrow will be a busy day with more talks and posters, including my own poster I’ll be presenting. But I’m pretty sure there won’t be any mascots crossing my path… although, you never know who (or what) you will see when you attend a conference!