Making the most of a science education conference

Time in the science classroom is invaluable—but getting outside the classroom is important, too. Here’s how to learn and network as much as possible at your next science education conference. (Step 1: Don’t forget to hydrate!)

By Amplify Staff | February 19, 2024

A typical science education conference such as NSTA may offer hundreds of booths, sessions, and new people to meet—and, most of the time, a typical science educator can’t do it all! So how can you maximize these opportunities to learn even more about teaching science … without maxing out? Middle-school educator and Science Connections podcast host Eric Cross is here to offer his tips. Here’s what he shared with us: 

Proven tips for capitalizing on science education conferences

  • Fuel up: Good food and good coffee are essential for me. Before you arrive, do some pre-trip research into local coffee shops and restaurants near the conference center. Avoid the long lines and overpriced food at the conference venue; instead, support local businesses to keep your energy levels up. Also important: comfy shoes, a reusable water bottle, and extra snacks.
  • Make a plan: Once registered, head to the conference website to build your agenda. Phone apps are handy, but I often find the desktop version works better for planning.
  • Narrow it down: NSTA, as just one example, offers more than 1,132 sessions! So it’s crucial to zero in on your options. Use a session schedule filter to focus on the sessions most relevant to your interests and needs.
  • Go where you’re fed: If you’re torn between sessions, go to one to collect resources, then move onto the other. Usually presenters list their session resources on the schedule or in the beginning of their session. Don’t hesitate to leave a session if it’s not meeting your needs, either—you’re there on behalf of your students. Presenters get it.
  • Divide and conquer: If you’re attending with a team, collaborate on a shared document for session notes and resource links. This way, everyone in your department and administration can benefit from the resources gathered at the conference.
  • Visit the expo hall: I recommend visiting right when it opens. You’ll find the booths fully stocked and the energy levels high.
  • Embrace downtime: Remember, conference venues are huge, and you’ll be on your feet quite a bit. Make sure to schedule 30–45 minutes of downtime. Use this break for a bit of mindless relaxation or to catch up on emails and reflect on earlier sessions. This brief pause can be a game changer for your overall conference experience.
  • Revisit next-day plans: Schedules can shift at the last minute. After dinner, I like to give the lineup a fresh look for any speaker or time changes. Being prepared allows me to have a game plan, but flexibility is also key.
  • Network: I especially find value in connecting with educators who teach content or student populations similar to my own and learning about their best practices in science instruction. Sometimes, these new connections can be just as enriching as the sessions themselves.

Note: Amplify will be at NSTA (March 20–23) at Booth #713. Stop by to experience real Amplify Science lessons; gain access to exciting, free resources and activities; and pick up fun swag. You’ll also hear from product experts and real educators about how they use Amplify Science to benefit all students.

Can’t wait? Check out our Amplify Science success stories to see how our K–8 curriculum is helping students everywhere read, think, and talk like scientists.

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