Local Science Educators attend Arizona Science Teachers Association’s 64th Annual Conference

THATCHER, Ariz.–– Two Easter Arizona College educators joined over two hundred educators from across Arizona at the 64th annual conference of the Arizona Science Teachers Association’s (ASTA) Annual Professional Development Conference, “Building Toward Phenomenal Science Instructions for All” last month at the Falls Event Center in Gilbert.

Dr. Phil McBride, EAC dean of instruction. Who also serves as the ASTA membership secretary, received funding to cover conference fees, travel, and lodging for teachers through Graham & Greenlee STEM Funding, which is a part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN) grant. Local educators attending the conference included Linsey Bezrutch (Duncan Elementary School), Joan Bull (Bonita School District), Paul Anger (Director, Eastern Arizona College Discovery Park Campus and ASTA Region V Representative) and McBride. The annual conference provided educators an opportunity to learn and practice new ideas, and work together in advocating best standards-based science teach and learning for all of Arizona’s students.

The two-day event focused on researched-based instructional practices for science. It opened with a presentation of shifts in science education, that focused on using three-dimensional science learning to make sense of educational phenomena. The conference continued with a presentation on effective discourse strategies in science classrooms, detailing classroom discussion, evaluating mastery, and developing thinking processes in the science class room. Day two opened with a keynote presentation by educator, speaker, author and former marine biologist, Michael DiSpezio. He shared a variety of scientific topics that range from “learning and the brain to re-engineering the 21st century science classroom.” After the keynote address, participants selected from over 25 break-out sessions from individual presenters and major STEM organizations like National Geographic, Wildlife Habitat Council, and the Phoenix Herpetological Society who shared new and effective classroom lessons and activities.

In addition to workshops and awards, the conference attendees had opportunities to see the latest technology and resources for science education by visiting over 40 vendors who exhibited at the conference.

Ethan McBride, biology instructor at Thatcher High School stated, “As a first-year teacher, the information I received and the things I learned were exactly what I need. I look forward to implementing new ideas into my classroom.”

Etta Sechrest, 7th grade science instructor at Morenci Unified Schools added, “(The conference) gave me a much better understanding of the eight sciences and engineering practices that I will begin to implement in my own classroom. Most sessions focused on fun, “hands-on” STEM activities that I plan to take back and use with my students.”

From Bonita Elementary School, Joan Bull shared, “This conference brought up the newest ideas in teaching and learning that can be achieved in our classrooms today. The presenters were energetic and involved everyone in the room with the newest methods and standards. The conference was very informative, and well worth the time.”

For more information about the Arizona Science Teachers Association or Graham & Greenlee STEM Funding – RAIN, please contact Anger, ASTA Region V Director for Graham and Greenlee Counties, and local Champion (Chari) of Graham & Greenlee STEM Funding – RAIN at paul.anger@eac.edu.