December 7, 2013 by Dr. G
On December 5th and 6th, the Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association held its annual conference in State College, PA, with the theme Engaging the Next Generation in Science. The conference is for current K-12 science teachers (what we call in-service teachers), undergraduate students that are future teachers (pre-service teachers), and university faculty that work with in-service and pre-service teachers. My colleagues and I that are a part of the Penn State Earth & Space Science Partnership (ESSP) gave hour-long presentations along the themes of Earth Science, Space Science, and teacher leadership. We also had a booth in the exhibit hall to promote the organization our grant has been integral in getting established, the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA).
My presentation was titled “A Review of Careers in the Earth Sciences and Available Resources Through the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA).” In my session, I shared with teachers some information about the varied career opportunities for students that decide to pursue a future in the geosciences, the employment outlook, and ways that we can use online resources and classroom exercises to help students learn about careers. There are many excellent websites with information from videos on Why Earth Science? and our own PAESTA compilation of career resources. We had a great discussion about the importance of showing students that there are careers available to them beyond what they see on television and in the movies (forensic science is still a popular major with students, thanks to CSI), and the importance of introducing female students and minority students to videos and profiles of women and minorities in STEM careers. We all agreed that there is much more work to be done in educating students about careers!
I also attended various sessions, such as one about using Prezi in the classroom (summarized on my Teaching with Technology blog) and another presentation about the Pennsylvania Science Framework and its relationship to the Next Generation Science Standards (something college faculty do not need to worry about addressing in our college classrooms, but certainly important for K-12 teachers).
It was an interesting conference, and I think I might have learned the most from the conversations I was having with in-service and pre-service teachers between and during sessions. But I don’t have much time to process all of this conference information – tomorrow, I leave for my next conference, the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco!