NSTA has unveiled a new name—and an enriched format—for its time-honored annual conventions. Long considered the premiere professional development events for science educators, NSTA’s national and area conventions will now be called NSTA Conferences on Science Education. The change reflects the evolution of conventions into deeper, more meaningful professional development experiences for teachers. NSTA will debut the new name at its 54th National Conference on Science Education, which takes place April 6–9, 2006, in Anaheim, California. The conference is expected to draw more than 13,000 attendees. “Science, The Universal Language’’ is the theme.
“We have been working to enhance our conventions to provide teachers with professional development opportunities that are more expertly sequenced, focused, and extended over a longer period of time,” said NSTA President Mike Padilla. “This is what research tells us is effective and can translate into meaningful learning experiences for teachers. As a result, we needed a new name to showcase how NSTA conferences provide a more in-depth experience for teachers and cover more of today’s important topics.
”In 2004, NSTA convened a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of its national and area conventions. Its goal was to closely evaluate the benefits that conventions provide to science educators and how they meet the strategic goals of NSTA and to examine the effectiveness of its current convention model. The task force researched and examined many ideas and in early 2005 made specific recommendations to the NSTA Board of Directors.
For 53 years, NSTA has been hosting national and area conventions that have attracted nearly 20,000 educators annually, offering the latest in science content, teaching strategies, and research. In recent years, NSTA has infused these events with state-of-the-art professional presentations on practices and methods that give science educators extended opportunities to grow professionally. NSTA is also taking an in-depth, coordinated approach to address teachers’ professional development needs.
National conferences now feature Professional Development Institutes (PDIs), which are focused, content-based learning events that explore topics in greater depth. First presented in 2004, they begin with a full-day session prior to an NSTA national conference, then continue with a focused four-day itinerary of related conference sessions. The PDIs have addressed important topics, including inquiry, the role of literacy in developing student understanding of science, assessment, and the analysis of instructional materials aligned to standards and state frameworks. Recent NSTA conventions have introduced day-long topical research dissemination conferences on focused topics. In 2004, NSTA presented Linking Science and Literacy in the Classroom for preK–8 teachers and administrators. Science Assessment: Research and Practice Approaches will be the focus of the next NSF-funded conference, which will take place in conjunction with the Anaheim conference.
In addition to PDIs and research dissemination conferences, NSTA has introduced NSTA Symposia, half- or full-day learning events for conference participants, with “after conference” follow-up, such as threaded discussion boards and interactive web seminars. Each symposium introduces participants to world-renowned experts presenting science topics—from Mars habitat to force and motion—aligned to the Standards. Symposia content is tightly coupled with hands-on activities that assist educators in translating the content into classroom practice.
NSTA has also designed its Conferences on Science Education around key strands that allow teachers to focus on specific areas of interest or need. Strands for the Anaheim event are Using Technology to Enhance Student Learning; Formative Assessment: How Will You Know What Your Students Know?; Science and Literacy: An Essential Partnership; Changing School Culture: Building Professional Learning Communities; and The Many Faces of Inquiry.
The perennially popular Exhibition of Science Teaching Materials has been enhanced with new features and schedule changes that will give teachers more opportunities to see and learn about the latest products, materials, and state-of-the-art resources for the science classroom.
In addition to these new features, NSTA Conferences on Science Education will continue to offer the traditional events and opportunities from past conventions that teachers have come to expect, including notable speakers; hundreds of workshops, sessions, and short courses; educational field trips; networking opportunities; and exciting social events.
For more information and to register for the Anaheim conference, visit www.nsta.org/anaheimconference.