Upcoming North Carolina Science Conference

Someone took this picture of me in The Cave, a virtual reality space at Duke University. It was part of ScienceOnline2008.

With tightening (and disappearing) budgets, especially for professional development, making it to conferences that are not core education events has become difficult. Yet, it is these field-oriented PD opportunities that teachers, intent on transforming their classrooms, need to be attending — Real World.

One such is ScienceOnline2012. I attended some of the earliest of these conferences which seemed to be spinoffs from the earlier BloggerCons of a half decade ago. The desire was to explore how the work of scientists and science journalists could benefit from the World Wide Web 2.0. They were fascinating conferences, because they were at their essence, about literacy, (accessing, working, and communicating information) within a context that is real, important, and huge!  From their web site:

Every January since 2007, the Research Triangle area of North Carolina has hosted scientists, students, educators, physicians, journalists, librarians, bloggers, programmers and others interested in the way the World Wide Web is changing the way science is communicated, taught and done.

The focus of the conference has broadened substantially beyond blogs, wikis, and podcasting.  This year will include presentations from leaders in the fields of infographics, data visualization, and how gaming is being used to conduct science research.

Links

There’s not much that’s better, for this confirmed and long-time nerd, than being in a room filled with scientists. Teachers and students should feel this thrill as well.

This years ScienceOnline will be held at the McKimmon Center on the campus of North Carolina State University, January 19-21, 2012. Links to the agenda, program, and registration are in the box to the right.

Organizers have always wanted to bring precollege educators to the conference, and especially teacher-student pairs.  Event sponsors are providing for scholarships for just such attendees, and you can apply for one of these opportunities here.  In the box at the bottom of the form, include your name, the name of the student, grade, and subject(s) taught.

I sure hope I can talk Brenda into sponsoring me 🙂

Steve Jobs – A Great Idea

There is much that can be said about Steven Jobs. I would like to simply say that he was a man of great ideas and the skills to make them happen.

During the creation of the original Macintosh, he told the designers that he wanted a computer that was as easy to operate as a telephone. It seems proper that last night I learned about the passing of Steve Jobs from a telephone that he turned into a computer.

I was especially moved by President Obama’s statement. He said that,

Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.

I hate to be so crude as to inject politics into this time of mourning, but if the President truly values the qualities he attributed to Steve Jobs, then he will do what he can, fire who he needs to, hire who he needs, to turn our classrooms into places where teachers are less often prompted to say,

“That’s the right answer!”

and more often hear themselves saying,

“That’s a great idea!”

– Posted using BlogsyApp from my iPad

What I Hope for My Children

About ten stitched photos from the Prairie in Utah

I’ve had one of those weeks that I try not to put myself through anymore. It was six audiences, seven airports, two airlines, two hotel chains and way too much fast food. My entire August use to be like that, but I’m through. These were invitations I simply couldn’t say no to.

Doing fewer gigs, I’m personalizing my presentations a little more, but all three of these centered around student engagement and digital natives. Of course, typing these two terms makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck, because they are overused catch phrases that have become so much a part of edu-speak that I simply can’t be confident that you take the same meaning in the reading, that I intend in the typing. So, as a personal exercise, I want to write my definitions, for each, right here.

Student Engagement: Learning that results from mental muscle, where the learner solves a problem or accomplishes a goal by planning and applying self-inventory, inquiry, exploration, experimentation, discovery, intellectual alchemy and inventiveness; gaining knowledge and skills that are personally and immediately valuable to the learner (increasing self-value); and in some elemental way surprises the teacher.

Digital Natives: The generations who have always known and have included as an element of their culture digital information and communication technologies, resulting in a uniquely intuitive but historically limiting perspective on literacy (using information to accomplish goals).

There! That was fun.

But the main thing that got me writing this morning was a comment from one of the Texas teachers I presented to earlier in the week. She said that the challenges of becoming the kind of teacher who engages today’s children in the learning they need to accomplish today seem overwhelming. But, she continued,

“As a parent, it is exactly the kind of teacher that my teenage children need right now.”

Right Now!