Feb 14th, 2014 @ 8:28 am | Author: Greg Vanney
The North Dakota Science Teachers Association (NDSTA) will hold its annual spring conference in Rhoades Science Center on the Valley City State University campus Feb. 20–22.

The 2014 conference theme is “Next Generation Science: Standards, STEM, Sustainability.” Billed as “for teachers, by teachers,” the conference includes a host of presentations exploring best practices in science teaching and learning, with hands-on demonstrations of curricular resources.

About 100 K–12 science teachers from throughout the state will participate in the event, chaired by Don Hoff, professor of science at VCSU.

The conference kicks off with a social at the President’s House Guest Inn on the VCSU campus on Thursday evening, Feb. 20, and continues with full days of activities and presentations on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21–22.

A banquet Friday evening at 7 p.m. in the VCSU Student Center Cafeteria will feature keynote speaker Sam Stier, presenting on biomimicry—the study and application of natural elements, models and systems to solve human problems—in an address titled “Enriching STEM Education with Nature’s Genius.” Stier is founder and director of Learning with Nature, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching children’s educational experience and STEM engagement through nature-based curricula.

The keynote address is sponsored by KLJ, a multidisciplinary engineering, surveying and planning firm.

North Dakota educators will make presentations on a wide variety of topics centered on the conference theme; VCSU faculty and staff presenters on the conference program include:
  • • Wes Anderson, adjunct lecturer and planetarium director, with a planetarium program, “Finding Polaris II”
  • • Jerzy Bilski, assistant professor of science, presenting “An Environmentally Friendly Approach to the Utilization of Coal Combustion Residues”
  • • Gary Ketterling, assistant professor and coordinator in the Great Plains STEM Education Center, presenting on “Picture-Perfect Science Lessons and NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards)” and “Exploring the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Your Classroom”
  • • Bonita Roswick, education specialist at VCSU’s Prairie Waters Education and Research, presenting “North Dakota River Watch”
  • • Casey Williams, assistant professor of science, presenting “The Pickled Fish Project”
  • • Jamie Wirth, instructor and chair of the mathematics department, presenting “STEM: Building Math”
Conference chair Don Hoff will also lead the North Dakota Association of Physics Teachers Meeting, held as part of the NDSTA conference, along with physics demonstrations and instructional ideas.

The conference venue, Rhoades Science Center, recently underwent a $10.3 million renovation and expansion. It is home to the VCSU science and math programs, and the Great Plains STEM Education Center. The university’s technology services offices and facilities are also housed in the building, as is VCSU’s collaborative nursing program with Dakota College at Bottineau.

To the extent possible, the design and construction of the Rhoades addition and renovation followed standards set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and the building has received LEED certification.

NDSTA Spring Conference events are offered to registered participants only; online registration and a complete NDSTA conference program is available for download in PDF format at www.ndsta.k12.nd.us. College and university students may attend free of charge but are asked to complete the registration process.

Attendees may obtain graduate continuing education credit through Valley City State University; visit www.vcsu.edu/extend for more information.