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USGS Research and Educational Products Promoted at National Science Teachers Association Conference in Boston
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was one of 400 government organizations and vendors that had exhibits at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)'s 56th annual National Conference. Nearly 15,000 educators, mostly K-12 science teachers, attended the meeting in Boston on March 27-29, 2008. USGS personnel from multiple disciplines across the United States helped make the triple-wide USGS display a resounding success. The USGS exhibit was coordinated by Bob Ridky (USGS Science Information and Education Office) and implemented by USGS employees from around the country, including Cher Cunningham, Cheryl O'Brien, and Janet Tilley (Reston, Virginia); Liz Colvard (Menlo Park, California); Morgan Bearden (Rolla, Missouri); and Pam Van Zee (Sioux Falls, South Dakota). Providing local assistance at the booth were Ben Gutierrez, Ellyn Montgomery, Chris Polloni, Nancy Soderberg, Kama Thieler, and Bill Winters from the USGS Woods Hole Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and Paul Barlow, Gillian Fairchild, Denis LeBlanc, and Chris Waldron from the USGS Massachusetts-Rhode Island Water Science Center in Northborough, Massachusetts.
Thousands of copies of more than 70 USGS information products were handed out to teachers, who typically had many compliments about the value of USGS educational materials in the classroom. Especially sought after were posters and copies of the maps "This Dynamic Planet" and "Tapestry of Time and Terrain." Each day's allotment was typically gone within 5 minutes of the booth opening! A four-page information sheet was the primary tool for informing teachers of educational resources available from the USGS. In addition, a flat-screen television continually showed various USGS-produced programs. A live computer link to the wealth of online USGS resources provided another means for distributing information. The multitude of questions from the attendees and ensuing discussions created a rare opportunity for USGS staffers to appreciate the new directions that science teachers are exploring. The display enabled us to show an important segment of our constituents how diversified, meaningful, and responsive USGS research studies and information transfer can be in shaping the growth of science education.
The USGS display staff were impressed by the enthusiasm of the teachers that they met and the fact that so many of these educators look first to the USGS for guidance regarding Earth-science educational materials. We needed to learn quickly about a wide variety of educational materials from the USGS so that we could address the visitors' far-ranging questions. The most interesting reaction was the excitement that the "topo salad-tray model" created (see example in Sound Waves story, "USGS Helps the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Celebrate Its Tenth Anniversary" and model instructions). After the NSTA conference, we made a model using bathymetry from Stellwagen Bank and got similar reactions from local teachers. Educators get quite excited about hands-on applications.
The NSTA, founded in 1944 and based in Arlington, Virginia, is the largest organization in the world dedicated to promoting innovation and excellence in teaching science. A few of its strategic goals are to (1) be an advocate for the importance of science, (2) enhance science education through research-based policy and practice, and (3) improve student learning by supporting and enhancing science teaching. Science teachers and supervisors, administrators, and scientists are among the organization's membership of more than 55,000.
Currently, the NSTA is conducting a "Building a Presence for Science" program that seeks eventually to have a point of contact in every public and private school in the United States. Such an enormous undertaking highlights the scope and importance of the NSTA in creating a dynamic national electronic network with which Federal and State agencies and other organizations can share information with science teachers.
More information about this conference is contained in a short report from the USGS Science Information and Education Office posted at URL http://education.usgs.gov/docs/NSTA2008RWR.pdf (2.1-MB PDF file).
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USGS Promoted at National Science Teachers Association Conference
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