I arrived at NSTA Baltimore at 7:30 am (I left Palmerton around 4:30 on Thursday morning!) After I picked up my badge holder at the registration desk I went directly to the Nova5000 session where I learned how to use our new science lab computers.
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NSTA Baltimore Convention Center

Fourier Probeware and Nova5000
With the NOVAs I was able to write directly onto the touch screen with the stylus, like a pen, type on the touch screen keyboard and turn it all into text large enough to see on the classroom monitors using the SoftMaker office and TextMaker programs.
We explored the list of integrated labs – no need for a lab book, or a lab notebook! We learned how to create graphs with notations and made a graph of the changes in temperature and pH of a citric acid and baking soda solution. Then we just copied the graph into Microsoft word, wrote our lab report and submitted the report directly to the instructor via email on the WiFi connection. We could have also saved the lab to a usb drive and handed it in that way. Right now we have three Nova5000, and I will be finding out what probes we still need to purchase

Bill Nye the Science guy! (Keynote speaker and opening of the conference.)
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Bill Nye the Science Guy


The teachers were very eager to see Bill Nye. I have put some photos in the text, you can see how he was practically mobbed whenever he wasn’t behind the speaker’s podium. He is as funny in person as he is on screen, and his talk sounded informal, almost off the cuff, at one point he interrupted himself noting that he was glad to be speaking to us at the convention, while he was also teaching our classes!
The title of Nye’s address was “Finding Your Way When You Are Not Sure Where You Are Headed.” Basically, Nye, who is president of the Planetary Society (previous presidents of the Planetary Society include visionary Carl Sagan) divides Science education into two eras, the Space Generation - these are people who remember the launch of Sputnik. The science education of that generation was a celebration of rocket science and rocket engineering. Many science teachers were educated during this era of science education.

Today’s generation is the Climate Generation. Nye defines the beginning of this era of science education as June 23, 1988, the date of the first testimony to US Congress about the dangers of climate change.

According to Nye, skepticism of climate change is unique to the United States and to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom. Nye told us that other countries accept the consequences of the natural human desire to want to do more. He believes that the “Earth Day Every Day” philosophy of using less and doing les is not the answer to the climate issue. In fact, many people misinterpret the idea “Save the Earth”. Actually, the Earth is going to be fine. It’s humans that are in trouble.

As Nye explains, looking at Earth from space, you can’t help but notice that Earth’s atmosphere is “crazy” thin, and humans number almost 7 billion (our number has doubled since 1965). According to Nye, when you think about how much stress our population alone has had on thin atmosphere, climate change isn’t so far-fetched. Nye showed a simple demonstration that could help people understand the difference between the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 1780 (250 ppm) versus 1989 (389 ppm).

Nye went on to say, that the last ten years have been the warmest on record, and that this year will be recorded as one of the warmest of those ten.
Not a proponent of shutting off cell phones, factories and turnpikes, Nye instead focused on the generation of electricity, hot water and home lighting from sunlight energy. He showed a picture of him on his rooftop, covered with solar panels, solar hot water panels and solatubes – tubes that reflect and multiply sunlight from the roof into the house and light the interior during the day time. He also showed the newest battery operated cars - the Nissan Leaf (100 miles per charge) and the Chevy Volt (40 miles per charge). He mentioned he still pays an electric bill of $10 a month, to cover the maintenance of the electric grid, but when the Leaf he ordered is delivered, he will never have to pay more than $10 a month for his energy use.

Nye implored the teachers in the room to create engineers, people who would create solutions to the problems we are encountering (he called this era a worry-wart’s daydream).

Active Physics
After Nye's address, I followed him, hoping for an autograph, he was gracious to the teachers and students that actually got to talk to him, and posed for several pictures, but he was clearly uncomfortable with the fan praise. I got pretty close to him, but did not have the chance to stop him and ask for a photo.

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So I quickly went to a session where Physics teachers were working together to learn ways they can integrate more inquiry into the traditional physics class. We were told to choose a sport, then create a short play-by-play transcript of how sports can be explained using science. Some of the best videos were of motorcross (potential to kinetic energy, momentum, projectile motion, inertia) and football (angular momentum, collisions, Newton’s Three Laws). My group did soccer. We came up with a few ideas, including how force is used to move the ball, the more force the faster (and farther) the ball will go, how controlling the angle and amount of force was necessary to predict where the ball would go. We also talked about projectile motion and collisions and how the construction of the soccer ball affected the way the ball acted when kicked or thrown.

Next we investigated Galileo’s experiment, and how he was able to describe the tendency of an object to remain at rest or in motion using inclines. With a ruler and a large steel ball we learned how to apply a continuous force to a moving object and show how acceleration happens (that was so simple and pretty cool!).
He gave us a whole chapter (Newton’s Law) out of the new textbook to try, so I will take a look at those activities and see if we can use them in our classroom.

Comparative Organ Dissections
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Me and My Kidney
Next I grabbed a sandwich and took it to the session on mammalian organ dissection. It was really fun to dissect again, especially with teachers who really know what they are doing when it comes to Anatomy and Physiology! I haven’t dissected since I worked in the labs at Delaware County Community College and we were going to dissect a sheep brain, a cow’s eye, heart or kidney. I choose to dissect a kidney, since we are working on diffusion, osmosis and homeostasis in Biology class. Here is a picture of me, and some of the other teachers at my table.

Exhibit Hall
Since the day was wearing on, and I hadn’t gotten a chance to visit the Exhibits yet, I went down to the exhibit hall. I met a man who is asking teachers to compile all their favorite activities on a new website that will allow teachers to rate and use other teacher’s activities. I also signed up as a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers and got a new set of MAGNETS! My biology students will be thrilled because they know my magnets have lost their strength.
I also met a man from School Specialty who is sending our classroom a classroom kit of my choosing ! It pays to be nice.
It is late and it is time for me to go meet up with my cousin and his wife and their two little kids, so I better sign off.

4:48 pm (12 and a half hours since I left the house!)