National Science Teachers Association Conference 2017

iDigBio staff members Bruce MacFadden, Libby Ellwood, and Molly Phillips attended the 2017 National Science Teachers Association National Meeting held on March 30-April 2 in the L.A. Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. The conference was massive – attended by thousands of K-college science teachers from around the country and world. The NSTA 2017 conference was divided into four strands, or themes: NGSS: The Next Generation of Science Teaching, 2017: A Stem Odyssey, Science and Literacy Reloaded, and Mission Possible: Equity for Universal Access.

The gang minus Kari HarrisiDigBio co-presented two one-hour sessions during the conference. The first session entitled “Online Natural History Collections: Bringing Real-World Science into Every High School Classroom” was a collaboration among Molly Phillips from iDigBio, Tracy Barbaro from Encyclopedia of Life, Amy Bolton from the Smithsonian Institution, and Libby Ellwood representing WeDigBio (but also from iDigBio). Each presenter gave a 12 minute presentation about their project resources. Molly Phillips introduced collections data and talked about how to access data through the iDigBio portal and how to find collections-based resources on the iDigBio website. Amy Bolton introduced a new Zooniverse citizen science project from the Smithsonian Institution where students can help scientists study climate change by examining stomata from fossil Gingko leaves. Tracy Barbaro talked about the plethora of educational resources available for free on Encyclopedia of Life including a brand new lesson plan where students collect trait data from specimen images. Libby Ellwood rounded out the session by inviting teachers to participate in WeDigBio, the annual world-wide transcription event happening this October. After presentations, there was a ten minute discussion session with the audience. Participants were given USBs pre-loaded with free resources from all of the presenters.

The second session was a fast-paced, interactive demo session that included even more collections folks.  Molly Phillips moderated the session and provided an introduction to digitized collections. Five speakers followed: Libby Ellwood introduced WeDigBio, Kari Harris talked about a Notes from Nature lesson plan, Tracy Barbaro talked about a brand new tool for data cleaning called Kurator, Anne Basham talked about the Libraries of Life Augmented Reality cards, and Andrea Miller ended the session with lesson plans centered around invasive species from the Great Lakes Invasives Network. After presentations, speakers walked around the room handing out materials, demoing activities and answering questions.

Kari Harris and Jill Czerwonky also gave a one hour workshop on a Notes from Nature lesson plan developed as part of SERNEC and Julie Bokor did a hands-on workshop on lesson plans using 3D printed fossil horse teeth developed in collaboration with Bruce MacFadden. Plans are already underway to continue the collections presence at NSTA 2018 in Atlanta with more workshops and a booth.