Annual Conference

2015: ISEA 18th Annual Conference
February 18-20, 2015
Location: Sky Ranch in Van, Texas

ISEA is honored to have Dr. Gerald Lieberman as our keynote speaker. Dr. Lieberman is an internationally recognized authority on school improvement using natural and community surroundings as interdisciplinary contexts for education. Lieberman’s recently released book, Education and the Environment: Creating Standards-based Programs in Schools and Districts, offers key strategies for connecting nature and the environment into classroom studies.

The ISEA 2015 conference theme is “Creating Connections: Building the Future”.  As we move into the future, we look to increase our capacity for exciting visitors’ interest and triggering the search for answers that motivates work in the formal science education world. Science learning through our informal settings benefits from collaborations between museums and parks, zoos and environmental agencies; best practices are shared and great ideas are passed forward. And we gather annually to increase skills and learn new methods that help us grow in our field. It is through our connections that we expand to meet the needs of the future.

View the ISEA 18th Annual Conference Packet!

Conference Sessions & Workshops:

Featured Speakers:
BUILDING TIRES IN A SHOE FACTORY: What’s really coming off our assembly lines?Lynne Christopher and Greg Wukasch from San Antonio Water System

We are all really great at creating materials, facilitating presentations and leading field trips.  But do we truly understand what all of these “raw materials” are actually going to be used for—what the final product will be?

Special Presenter:
The Big Picture: Research and Trends in the ISE Field
Jaime Bell from the Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education

Come and get plugged in to the most recent research, news, and trends that are impacting the informal science education field. CAISE will present recent research and trends that are making waves in our field, and facilitate discussion on how this impacts informal science educators in Texas.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Grant Application: How to use tools of your favorite fiction authors to write more effective grants
Christina Soontornvat with Phoenix Arising Aviation Academy

What do you and J.K. Rowling have in common? In this interactive session, we’ll examine excerpts from Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and other bestselling novels to find out what makes them so un-put-downable. Then we’ll try our own hand at crafting some grant language that will keep your reviewers turning the page.

Science Presentations: “The End is Near”- but Did They Get the Point?
Jerrel Geisler with WaterWorks Education Center, City of Houston

We connect with visitors using hands-on activities, but we need to make sure they understand the point.  Participate in activities, see demonstrations and learn some “magic” used in presentations and lessons. Ensure visitors get the point of the “WHY” rather than just – “How’d they do that?”

Connecting to Teachers Through Informal Learning
Dr. Sandra Johnson with Welder Wildlife Refuge

How can informal science entities best meet the needs of teachers and students while also communicating important concepts in environmental education?  Learn best practices with standards based activities, and making use of formal science infrastructure to connect to teachers and students.

Creating Synergistic Partnerships
Educators with City of Austin organizations and departments (Watershed Protection, Austin Water Utilities, Keep Austin Beautiful)

Challenged by creating synergistic partnerships or don’t know where to start? Come learn the steps to identifying and establishing successful partnerships with nonprofits, city and state agencies, and local school districts. Hear best practices for overcoming challenges and experience the types of projects and products that these partnerships can afford.

Zooper Engagement
Chance Sanford, Anita B. Frey from Houston Zoo

ISE institutions are uniquely positioned to be able to provide engaging opportunities for learners of all ages through a variety experiences and programs. By the end of the Zooper Engagement presentation, participants will walk away with strategies for hands-on engagement and ideas for infusing current programs with “edutaining” activities to capture attention of all ages.

Parachute Parade: Hands-On Engagement for Kids
Gina Higby with Texas Girls Collaborative Project, Women in Engineering

Test your skills in designing a parachute to give a toy a safe landing.  Educators will learn strategies and curriculum that increase girls’ (and boys’) engagement in STEM, based on the PBS TV Show, ScieGirls, and featuring middle school girls engaged in inquiry-based STEM projects.

Connecting Preservice teachers to Science through partnerships with informal sites
Dr. Ratna Narayan, science educator at the University of North Texas at Dallas.

Pre-service students completed a well scaffolded 20 hour field experience at the Perot museum. Learn the impact it made in their teaching efficiency and science understanding.

Active Astronomy: Engaging Your Audience with Kinesthetic Astronomy Activities
Dr. Keely Finkelstein and Dr. Jeffrey Silverman with University of Texas at Austin/McDonald Observatory

See activities about stars and galaxies, how stars live and die, and learn how to successfully implement these activities into your existing programs or how to develop a new program based around this content.

Connecting to Your Visitors with Surveys, Interviews, and Observations
Dr. Cheryl Boyette with Boyette Consulting & Christina Soontornvat with Phoenix Arising Aviation Academy

This session is designed for anyone just getting started evaluating their programs or services. Surveys are the most common evaluation tool used, but often the least productive. Participants can bring a program they would like to evaluate and we will work together on developing an appropriate survey, interview, or observation protocol.

Connecting Communities through Network Weaving
Jennifer Bristol with Texas Children in Nature

Understand how Network Weaving can help grow a volunteer base and even connect with funders.  Participants will be challenged to think about how they can turn passive networking into strong, effective interactions that produces results without taking a lot of extra time or effort in their daily work.

Round Table Discussions:
Volunteer Management
Susan Rowe with Lubbock Landmark Lake Museum and Adriana Reza with Texas State Aquarium

Environmental Literacy Plan
Johnnie Smith with Texas Parks and Wildlife

Technology Solutions to Interpretive Dilemmas
Monica Trevethan with Tietronix Software, Inc

Poster Sessions:
1) A New Framework for Professional Development in Informal Science Learning
Chance Sanford with Houston Zoo

It is important for informal educators to make connections to the classroom environment, so that teachers can associate the value of good instruction with informal education programs.  Some of these methods can be taught through specific targeted on-the-job trainings.

2) Water You Waiting For? Host a “State of Water” Video Screening in Your Community
Johnnie Smith with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Increasing demands on our limited water supplies make water one of our most critical natural resource issues in the state. Help your community understand water in Texas by hosting a screening of the TPWD award-winning documentary series, Texas: The State of Water

3) Using STEAM’s ACORN for connecting kids to nature
Peggy Carnahan at STEAM Center, Our Lady of the Lake University

How would you like to see your program have students learning environmental research at your location? Currently, the ACORN Project (Area Children Organized to Replant Natives) has children doing research outside. This project uses gardens or trees, to understand the science and mathematics of plant growth, and the sense of land stewardship with young children grades 3-8.

4) Engaging Young Visitors
Ellen White at STEAM Center, Our Lady of the Lake University

Youngsters are eager to participate so get things off on the right foot with fun and meaningful learning that connects children with nature. Learn to engage young visitors through stories, dramas and puppets that center on the theme “Animals that make their homes in trees.”

5) Paddlefish Reintroduction Education Initiative (Paddlefish Project)
Gary Endsley & Libby Horton with Collins Academy and Jim Neal with Caddo Lake

Institute Session will describe how partnerships were created and maintained to support extraordinary outdoor learning opportunities stemming from on-going scientific studies at Caddo Lake and along Big Cypress Bayou in Harrison and Marion counties.

6) Sustainability in the Swamp- a community partnership to promote water education
Mellissa Mullins, Baylor University-Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research

Learn about a community partnership designed to increase teachers’ knowledge and awareness of water sustainability issues, promote community-based water stewardship, and provide teachers with resources to incorporate water sustainability into existing curricula and to extend their classroom into the community.

7) Connecting Through Partnerships: Partnering to Create Educator Kits
Kiki Corry with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dustin Miller with Perot Museum of Nature and Science

The museum with the assistance of TPWD, has piloted the creation of kits to enrich and extend activities found in the Project Wild K-12 educator guide. See the planning to implement the  project and the finished kit, available for Project Wild-trained educators to borrow from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

8) Trail of Trees
Leslie Kessner with Texas Forest Service

A new state wide program with activities, for sites to create a trail to be posted online, including schools and informal science facilities.