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OCTOBER 21-23, 2016 • Palm Springs, CA


Focus speakers are highly regarded scientists and education experts who present one-hour, in-depth sessions on subjects relevant to science teaching. The Focus speaker series allows you to expand your understanding in a wide range of critical topics. Focus speaker sessions are included with your conference registration.

Focus Speaker Schedule:

Friday, October 21, 2016

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm: Inspire STEM Girls Through Gender Equitable Teaching Strategies in STEM

Sandy Marshall, Founder/CEO, Project Scientist and Leija Irvin, 8th Grade Math and Science Teacher, Edgewood academy

Join Project Scientist Founder/CEO and Leija Irvin, 8th grade math and science teacher at Edgewood Academy and Project Scientist Academy teacher as they introduce you to gender equitable teaching strategies in STEM through SciGirls. SciGirls is an Emmy award-winning PBS Kids TV show, website and outreach program designed to change how millions of girls think about STEM. Videos and hands-on activities work together to spark excitement and inspire STEM learning and participation for all girls (ages 8-13). Participants will experience the SciGirls Seven, research-based strategies to engage girls in STEM, as they complete team-based challenges and explore SciGirls’ extensive free resources for classroom and informal settings.

Project Scientist is a non-profit dedicated to serving girls in STEM through six-week summer STEM Academies on university campuses and year-round STEM Expeditions.

Project Scientist


Saturday, October 22, 2016

8:00 am – 9:30 am: When Do I Tell Them the Answer?

Alan Colburn, Professor of Science Education, University Long Beach

“When do I tell students they are wrong? What if they still have misconceptions? When do I give the right answer?” Teachers struggling to navigate NGSS’s demands often hear inaccurate thinking, especially when engaging students in the open-ended activities that come with inquiry-based instruction. The temptation to simply correct this thinking is overwhelming. This presentation focuses on how and why sometimes it’s better to let students confront their misconceptions and construct their own meanings, waiting until students are confident in their conclusions or need more information. Facilitate that process, take “teacher telling” off the table for awhile, and transform your students’ science experiences.

10:00 am - 11:30 pm: NGSS: What Is The Role of Computational Thinking, Modeling, and Simulation?!

Alice Steinglass, VP of Product and Engineering at, Irene Lee, Director, Project GUTS; Research scientist, MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program, and Trish Williams, Member and Liaison to NGSS and CS, CA State Board of Education

A wave of interest from teachers, administrators, parents and students is sweeping across the US to expand and diversify student access to computer science knowledge and processes. And because it is now commonplace that scientists, engineers, and computer scientists often work together, the Next Generation Science Standards include mathematical and computational thinking, as well as the development and use of models and simulations, as two of the eight practices. Skeptical but intrigued? Or ready to jump on board? Join us to hear two of the nation’s top experts discuss how computer science is increasingly interconnected with science, what these NGSS practices might look like in middle and high school classrooms, and the professional learning and resources currently available. Audience Q and A.

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm: NASA's Orion Capsule Parachute System - A View from the Inside

by Elsa Hennings, Senior Systems Engineer in NAWCWD's Escape, Parachute and Crashworthy Division

The Orion Capsule parachute system is presented, from the developmental testing through the installation into the Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) spacecraft, to the Pacific Ocean recovery operation for EFT-1. The presenter is Elsa Hennings, the Navy's Chief Engineer for parachutes, who has been a consultant to NASA since the beginning of the Orion parachute program and has been involved with the system each step of the way.


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm: Chemistry, The 3 Stooges and Tattoos

by John Stenger-Smith, Chemistry Professor and DoD Researcher, Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest, CA

Ever wonder how these are related? Please come join me as I speak about my experiences in life, chemistry and comedy. I'll talk about the path that lead me to my current career from the moment 3 gentlemen (not the 3 Stooges) made a mistake in the UPENN Chemistry Research Laboratory to the present, warts, "C"s and all. I'll also speak about my past experiences as a Chemistry teacher at a community college and give very frank opinions on some latest education related topics, and a discussion about hands-on laboratories in Science. The 13-year journey of "The Tattoo" will be explained. Interspersed with this information will be interesting information about the 3 Stooges, questions and lab safety. Questions are encouraged. I will also sing "Happy Birthday" to whomever has a birthday in October.