Science for Young Learners Conference – A New Venture for NSTA

SciYoungLearner.jpgThe National Science Teachers Association hosted a special day for PreK-2 teachers who want to make science more fun, more hands-on and more integrated into their teaching experiences. The Science for Young Learners Day was the brainchild of Bill Ritz, Professor Emeritus at California State University and the Conference Chairperson for the 54th Annual NSTA Conference in Anaheim, California (April 6-9, 2006). Bill Ritz and his conference planning committee invited me to help them kick-off the day as their morning keynote speaker.

Download a special handout from the morning keynote.

SciYoung2.jpgThere was a “buzz” in the packed room of early childhood specialists even before the program started. Some teachers arrived more than an hour early (just because they were excited to attend a mini-conference dedicated to early childhood hands-on science) and most of the participants didn’t wait for the session to officially begin before starting to share some of their best teaching ideas with others at their table. NSTA President Michael Padilla impressed me so much with his opening comments: “Science education is in a crisis today… and the early childhood educators in the room will play an important role in helping us prepare young learners to be life-long learners in science.” Michael hit the nail on the head, and these educators know the important role they play in preparing students with the skills needed to wonder, discover, explore and to really do science.

The keynote message was simple and direct: Turn ordinary activities into unforgettable learning experiences by building real-world connections. My hat’s off to Bill Ritz and everyone at NSTA who shined the spotlight on the amazing teachers who bring hands-on science alive for young learners.

3 replies
  1. Chris Ozmun
    Chris Ozmun says:

    Hi Steve,

    I was there at NSTA last week, it was great, our organization is doing some work with Early childhood providers and it is very exciting. Thanks for sharing the stories as well, I had a simlar experience recently, where one of my colleagues was visiting a school and observed a young science teacher, after the lesson he (the science teacher) asked her (the consultant) if she knew me, she said, yes we share an office, and he replied, “I became a science teacher because of Mr. Ozmun, He was my fourth grade teacher.”

  2. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    Hi Steve, I was able to attend the conference and had a great time. Thank you for your fun and exciting way to approach science. (I have to admit, I got a lab coat, oh my goodness, never in a million years did I ever think I would ever say that! ha!) My students come running when they see that. They know something fun and interesting is about to happen. I always had struggled in science in school, but something magical happened….I was introduced to new ways of intruducing science via Bill Ritz and his group. I now have a new outlook on science and the approach to keep it interesting. All this from a girl who barely passed Biology with extra credit!
    Thank You!


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