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For almost as long I have been teaching I have wanted to go to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) national conference. Finally, I've made it!! Every year I asked to go and every year I was told the school didn't have the money to send me. Fast forward to 2017. Thanks to a grant from Math for America and a generous principal that supports my professional growth, I have made it to my first NSTA national conference. Woo Hoo!!!

Day 1 - I arrive in Los Angeles
It's March and I live in New Jersey. So, it's cold. Two weeks ago we had a major snow storm. Cue the California sunshine. As soon as I stepped out of the airport terminal in LA I began to peel off the layers and whipped out the sunglasses. Sandal season is on! After arriving at the hotel I was able to sit outside and get some work done. In March. So nice....After that, an unexpected dinner with a friend and then off to the conference.

Tomorrow is the first official day of the conference but tonight there was a special event - a talk by Bill Nye thanks to the Planetary Society. Bill freakin' Nye!! Science teachers love them some Bill Nye. And the guy is funny. Smart and funny. Can't get much better than that. I am eternally grateful to the man for bringing science into pop culture. Mr. Wizard, Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson - all of them instrumental in bringing science literacy to the world. I get to 150 kids a year. They get to millions.
Bill Nye!!

Now it's back in the hotel room as jet lag catches up to me. It's way past my bed time (east coast time). Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Day 2: An exciting and exhausting day
Jet lag woke me up at 5am this morning. I tried hard to go back to sleep but to no avail. Finally worked my way down to the healthiest breakfast buffet I have ever seen (way to go California) and then over to the conference center. My first session was at 8am. Four sessions then lunch. Four more after lunch. Over to the exhibit hall to learn about some amazing products and opportunities and I picked up lots of swag. Thank goodness I took the bigger suitcase. I'm still working out how I'm going to get the posters home.
Doing Some Gel Electrophoresis 

Here are some of the day’s highlights:
NOAA – they have a huge booth with lots of great information. Learned about the Teacher at Sea program. This is definitely happening in my future. Two weeks working at sea with researchers. Yes please!

Free Bird feeder – thanks Cornell lab of ornithology! My students are going to love it! And I'm sure it totally won't distract my middle school students as the weather gets warmer.

Middle School Chemistry – this is the website that created the chemistry curriculum I use (I’m an earth science teacher so chemistry was a little out of my wheelhouse). Went to a workshop with them and got to play with chemicals. It turns out I really like teaching chemistry.

James Webb Space Telescope – went to a screening of the movie “Into the Unknown” about the James Webb Space Telescope. It is projected to launch in 2018 and will see deeper into space than ever before. It's also going to look for evidence of life on exoplanets. After the screening two of the project engineers were there answering questions. And I got free movie snacks. Awesome!!
I would make an excellent astronaut.

The Inflatable Dome – this the second time I have been in an inflatable projection dome and I LOVE it! How can I get one of these for my school. I think  I want to live in this dome.

Andy Weir – went to a talk with the guy that wrote "The Martian". His path to becoming a successful author was pretty interesting. Maybe someday I will actually write that best selling novel….

NESTA and NMLST – there are organizations for earth science teachers and middle school teachers. I am both of those things! I’ve got to get on this…

The people – I am in a huge building full of people that love teaching and science – two of my favorite things. It’s been amazing meeting people from all over the country that are as passionate about science education as I am. And I'm a talker so I'll talk to anyone!
NSTA First timers

 At 8:30pm I finally made my way back to my room and collapsed into bed. Looking forward to what Day 3 will bring.


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