TxGCP: Passing on Resources to Engage and Excite Students About STEM at the National Science Teachers Association Conference

The Texas Girls Collaborative Project at NSTA

By Karen Bouldin, Program Assistant for the EdLab Group

From April 11 to 14, 2013, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) held their national conference in San Antonio, Texas. The NSTA conference brought together over 8,000 science educators from across the country. Conference workshops and sessions gave participants opportunities to: network, learn innovative teaching strategies, exchange and share teaching materials and curriculum, engage in hands-on activities, participate in professional development institutes, and access the most up-to-date information on science education issues and research. The Texas Girls Collaborative project (TxGCP) was heavily involved in the conference and summarized below is more information on the activities and Tricia Berry’s, director of the TxGCP, thoughts on the conference.

Tricia Berry led multiple workshop sessions: Excite Kids Through Effective Science, Technology, Engineering, which focused on research-based messaging and best practices on how to engage diverse students in STEM and excite them to pursue STEM careers; and Math Messaging Send the Right Message: Excite and Engage Kids in STEM with Your Words, Images, and Real-World, which discussed research about how to engage girls in STEM and research-based best practices in messaging that connect diverse populations to the excitement of STEM. She also led a workshop titled: Informal Science Day Session: From Paper Towers to Straw Kazoos—Free Online STEM Resources to Excite All Students, which provided educators with online resources to engage and excite students about STEM.

Girl Zone at NSTA

In addition, the TxGCP hosted a Girls Zone during the NSTA community festival, where the TxGCP and other girls-serving organizations shared hands-on STEM activities and resources with the public. Collaborators from the TxGCP also led a SciGirls Session: Engage and Excite Girls (and Boys) in STEM and Squishy Circuits, Toy Engineering, and More! Organizations from the TxGCP also participated in the Informal Science Share-a-Thon and Successful Tools for Engaging Girls in Science: A National Panel of Women in STEM Share Proven Strategies and Programs, and helped out at the NGCP and Waterbotics Booths. It was a VERY busy few days!

Below are Tricia Berry’s thoughts about the NSTA conference in a Q&A format.

 1.     What do you think was the most valuable aspect of the NSTA conference?

From April 11 to 14, 2013, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) held their national conference in San Antonio, Texas. The NSTA conference brought together over 8,000 science educators from across the country. Conference workshops and sessions gave participants opportunities to: network, learn innovative teaching strategies, exchange and share teaching materials and curriculum, engage in hands-on activities, participate in professional development institutes, and access the most up-to-date information on science education issues and research. The Texas Girls Collaborative project (TxGCP), led by the Women in Engineering Program at The University of Texas at Austin, was heavily involved in the conference and summarized below is more information on the activities and Tricia Berry’s, director of the TxGCP and director of the Women in Engineering Program at The University of Texas at Austin, thoughts on the conference. 

For the Texas Girls Collaborative Project, attending the conference workshops and sessions were most valuable. The conference provided us with an opportunity to spread the word about the NGCP and the TxGCP. We were able to share the resources and expertise that NGCP and TxGCP can offer, and to meet people in Texas and beyond.

For the NSTA conference attendees, networking was probably the most valuable aspect of the conference.

 2.     What was your biggest take away from the NSTA conference?

My biggest take away from the conference was that the Texas Girls Collaborative Project is doing exceptional work across the state. We have a lot of resources and examples of best practices. We need to continue to get the word out about our work and resources to educators.

 3.     How will you apply the information that you have gained from the conference to your future work?

I plan to share the curriculum from the NSTA conference with other educators and programs in the TxGCP and modify some of our programs based on what I learned at the NSTA conference. In addition, I plan to continue to communicate the work and value of the TxGCP to educators who need resources and expand our reach.

 4.     Engaging students through hands-on activities was a common topic at the NSTA conference, what are the benefits of hands-on activities?

Hands-on activities help students learn by doing, build confidence, make connections to real-world applications, gain confidence in their ability to problem solve, and visualize the concepts, which makes the concepts more real to them.