I spent Thursday and Friday at the STAO conference in Toronto, and it was so awesome to be back! I used to go when I coordinated the CPSX outreach program, in an exhibitor/presenter role. This time, I was there as a teacher, of course.
It was a great conference, for so many reasons:
- I got some awesome instructional ideas for the classroom
- I got to hang out with a teacher I work with, and we had a great time
- I found out about some cool programs and online resources that would be great for my current and future classes
- I caught up with several people I’ve known from my outreach days
- I picked up some pretty sweet swag
There were SO many sessions to choose from, and I could only attend 7 out of the 200-ish available on the days I was there. They were:
Mindset: Collaborative Learning for Smarter Science: this was an introduction to growth mindset, and how two teachers implement it into their classroom teacher. If you follow me, you know I’m a strong proponent of Growth Mindset, but it was good to hear how other teachers use it.
STAO’s Demo Collection for Physics Grades 11-12: this was clearly right up my alley, and was a great introduction to STAO’s huge resource bank. I’ll admit that I’ve know about it before, but never really looked too deeply at it. I will now! There were some great demos that were shown, and I hope to use some of them soon!
But is Everyone Buying In? Gender Inclusivity in STEM: most of this presentation was at an introductory level about the what the research shows about girls & women in STEM (more go into biology/health-related fields than engineering/math/computers/etc). I’ve been following this type of research already for years, but they made reference at the end how ensuring there’s relevance/context can help with engagement, especially with girls.
And Yet Another Fun Friday: though the activities in this presentation were biology/chemistry-based, I got a lot of good ideas for different types of fun activities. I very much liked “evolution telephone”, the flower dissection, and the pandemic simulation.
Intuitive Physics and Why it Matters: honestly, I was unsure about this one, because it was a university presentation, but I found it very useful! They talked about how they need their incoming students to have more of a intuition about physics/science, instead of thinking it’s memorization and plug&chug. It gave me more confidence that what I’m doing with my students – especially the 4Us – is on the right track.
ScienceWorks: Grade 9 Astronomy: This was presented by a friend of mine, and amazing science teacher, @HTheijsmeijer, and it was awesome (and I’m not just saying that because I know her!). Even though I know more than the average bear about Astronomy & teaching it, she showed some awesome resources that would be great the next time I teach the course(s).
Exploring the Edge of Black Holes: The Event Horizon Telescope: okay, to be perfectly honest, I went to this one because it sounded way cool, but it ended up being one of my favourite things about the conference! First, I had never heard of the EHT, so it was cool to learn about it (coming online in 2017, people!). Second, the activity presented about interferometry was very well put together, easy to follow, and engaging. Finally, the presenters themselves were excited and fun to listen to!
Overall, I found the sessions well-done, engaging, and very useful! I’ve walked away with a lot (probably too many) good ideas! Some I’d love to do/try out soon are:
- look at the STAO resources online
- Subscribe to the Physics Girl YouTube channel
- Use foldables for review on Monday (not new to me, but a good reminder!)
- Show 4U students the info from Waterloo to show what we’re doing will be very helpful when they go to post-secondary
- Peruse the PI resources
Can’t wait to go again! If you didn’t get a chance to go, you can download the handouts here!