Conference Archives

ISEA 21st Annual Conference – February 21-23, 2018 at Botanical Research Institute of Texas and Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Seeds of Change

The theme for our 2018 conference is Seeds of Change. As we celebrate coming of age in our 21st annual conference, we are looking for outstanding sessions that celebrate the unique places we call our work home and the diverse audiences we serve. Our theme encompasses changing audiences, practices, collaborations and partnerships – and everything in between!

We have an amazing list of presenters lined up and are looking forward to meeting new faces and catching up with friends and colleagues during our presentations, workshops and poster sessions and all those other after hours networking opportunities.

Click here for a PDF of the full schedule.

A printable version of the Schedule At A Glance is also available.

ISEA 20th Annual Conference – February 15-17, 2017 at T Bar M Retreat

Past, Present and Future

A huge thanks to everyone who attended and presented at the 2017 ISEA Conference at T Bar M Retreat in New Braunfels, Texas. Between celebrating our 20th Anniversary as an organization, rolling out a new mission statement, and karaoke it was the most rockin’ ISEA conference yet!

Wednesday’s Night Structured STEM Fun

Thanks to Erin, this year’s scholarship recipients, and the board for setting up the opening night fun!

Thursday’s Keynote: José González – Founder, Latino Outdoors

José shared many cuentos with us, and inspired us to not simplify, but to connect and amplify everyone’s message in order to invite more learners into the diverse world of science learning. Here are just a few of the gems he shared with the group:

  • Buzz Hoot Roar – A graphic driven blog that shares or explains scientific concepts in animations, pictures, and 300 words or less.
  • Aguacate Press – José’s Etsy shop, where you can find his arte.
  • Guamuchiles – a species of flowering plant in the pea family that  José grew up eating in Mexico.

Keynote Speaker: José González, Founder, Latino Outdoors

José González is an experienced educator in formal and informal education settings with an array of associated interests in the arts, education, conservation, and the environment. He has broad experience as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. His teaching credential coursework was at the Bilingual Multicultural Education Department at California State University, Sacramento.

In his capacity developing Latino Outdoors, José looks forward to opportunities and collaborating with organizations seeking to diversify their outdoor and conservation programs. He is available for trainings, workshops, and speaking engagements around these topics.

Featured Speaker: Charles Walter, Director, Mayborn Museum, Baylor University

Charlie is the Director of the Sue and Frank Mayborn Natural Science and Cultural History Museum Complex on the Baylor University campus in Waco, Texas. He has been involved with museums for more than 30 years and has spent the past two decades in executive positions at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and the San Antonio Children’s Museum. He secured his first museum position as the visitor services manager at the Fort Worth Museum in 1986 and advanced through multiple positions, ending his tenure as executive vice president for programs with oversight of exhibitions, collections, theater, planetarium and public programs. He was a senior member of the team that developed and opened the new museum facility in 2009. Charlie is a founding member of the ISEA organization, a strategic thinker, and a nationally respected thought leader in the museum field.

Here’s a run down of the great presentations and workshops from the 20th Annual Conference:

Session Title Presenter(s) Session Description
Getting Kids Interested in Science Through Service Jennifer Himstedt, Little Helping Hands, & Audrey Stewart, Treefolks
Learn about how Little Helping Hands and Treefolks are teaming up to help spark kids’ interest in environmental science by going outside and learning through service.

Joanne Baptista & DeAndra Ramsey, Houston Zoo

Going where no zoo has gone before! From teachers to students of all ages, the Houston Zoo is developing new and innovative programming that will bridge the gap between the formal and informal sectors. Come on our journey where we are creating empathy and connecting classrooms to the natural world.
Light and Spectroscopy – Astronomy Tools of the Trade in the Informal Learning Space

Keely Finkelstein & Marc Wetzel, McDonald Observatory

Spectroscopy is an important tool used in astronomy and other sciences. We’ll make a DIY spectroscope with everyday materials, examine different household light sources, and do a hands-on activity. Learn how astronomers study spectra and how this can be extended into an informal science learning space.
ISEA Education Committee: Improve collaboration and increase the use of quality program evaluation  

Johnnie Smith, & Todd DeWitt, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Plan to attend this meeting to discuss and explore initiatives to improve formal and informal educator collaboration through the STEM Collaborative Integrating Formal and Informal Education–SCI-FIE, and to increase the number and quality of program evaluations among ISEA member organizations.
How to successfully increase participation of underrepresented students in STEM outreach programs Dawn Hunter, Texas Advanced Computing Center In this session, we will discuss recruitment and selection practices for capturing underrepresented students, as well as how transportation and family responsibility can impact their participation.
Creating an inclusive experience for visitors with disabilities:

Sarah Coles, Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, & Susan Rowe, Lubbock Lake Landmark As the numbers of people with disabilities in the US is growing, and more families are looking for ASD friendly activities informal science educators are facing a new programming challenge. Join this session to learn more about how to create fun new programming for this growing community.
May the Forest (Literacy) Be With You: A Framework for Educating Texas’ K-12 Students About Forests Misty Bowie, Texas Project Learning Tree Because we depend profoundly on our rural and urban forests, Texans must play an active role in ensuring their sustainability. The Texas Forest Literacy Plan is designed to help K-12 educators provide students with a comprehensive education about forests. Join us for an interactive look at the Plan.
Leveraging After School Science Clubs to Improve Learning Options for Students and Educators Alan Small, Texas Partnership for Out of School Time Alan Small, author of The Science Club Handbook, will present nuts and bolts strategies needed to establish after school Science Club programs. Quality Science Clubs provide students with access to an inviting learning space while supporting the core values and mission of your organization.
Nature Play and You: Incorporating Nature Play into Your Programs Anna Lewis, Dallas Zoo and Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park Ever wondered what nature play is, or how to incorporate nature play into your programs? In this session, we will learn why nature play is important and different activities you can bring back to your organization, along with tips to train your staff on how to work with children in nature play.
Leveraging Effective Formal/Informal Partnerships: Meeting Teacher, Student, Institutional and Funder Needs Lucy Hale, Trinity River Audubon Center, Gretchen Pollom, Perot Museum of Nature and Science/The Lamplighter School, Dustin Miller, Dallas Arboretum, & Theresa Coble, UMSL Effective partnerships require active participation by all parties involved, but they also require that each partner gains value from the relationship. Join us as we share lessons learned from our inter-institutional education partnerships in the DFW area in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Theresa Coble.
Teaching “Big Science” to little minds: the power of stories and hands-on learning Aaron Swink, Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center Come learn about harnessing the power of stories and hands-on learning to impart a lasting understanding of “big science” concepts like climate change and evolution to young people.
On the Hunt for Pokemon: Understanding Biological Concepts using Pokemon Go™ Judy York, ESC Region 12 Participant will collect data via the Pokemon Go™ App and determine community and population level metrics. Using the App as a tool we will examine the community level biological concepts of species richness and diversity, habitat specificity, and species area relationships.

Exploring Electricity – Take a Shocking Ride from Power to Ground

Riley Calderon & Karen Wylie, Thinkery Take part in dissecting a Thinkery program designed to provide foundational knowledge to prime 3rd-5th grade students for classroom instruction of electricity. Enjoy electrical activities and participate in a discussion of the how and why of our activity design. Perfect for beginners and experts.

Expanding Your Reach with Citizen Science

Joanne Baptista, Didey Montoya & Katelyn Wamsted, Texas Girls Collaborative Project, & Heather Russon, 4-H CAPITAL With citizen science projects, anyone can contribute to scientific research. We will introduce you to the wide world of citizen science projects including activities, resources, games and apps. Map invasive or threatened species, analyze climate records, hunt for comets, transcribe museum collections, & much more.

Reflecting on Practice: A Professional Learning Program for Informal STEM Educators

Kristin Evans & Sara Pelleteri, University of Texas Informal Reflecting on Practice (RoP) is a professional learning program designed specifically for informal educators. It uses community-building activities to help educators understand and improve their practice. Join this hands-on session to explore RoP and learn how to implement it with your team!

Pre-Conference Workshop: SciGirls Educator Workshop

SciGirls is a PBS KIDS series and website and is out to change how millions of girls think about STEM. Participants in this workshop will learn the latest research for engaging girls (and boys) in STEM, experience three hands-on stem activities, leave with curriculum for over 25 creative activities, learn how to modify any activity to excite and engage kids in STEM using the SciGirls seven and discover additional SciGirls on-line resources. Resources, lesson plans, and more information here.

ISEA 19th Annual Conference – February 19-21, 2016 at the Houston Zoo

Wildly Inspired: Learning through Diverse Experiences

The 2016 Conference Program is archived here. Below you’ll find links to the session slides and resources shared by our fantastic presenters.

Session & Link to Resources Presenter(s) Session Description
Diverse Learning Experiences: What Works, What Lasts and Why Dr. Kenneth Wesson, Educational Consultant and Neuroscientist

Associated articles:
Brain-STEM: Using Interdisciplinarity to Improve Our Minds and Our Schools
Brain-Sight: Can touch allow us to “see” better than sight?
Hands-on learning should not be considered optional for normal child development. Concrete experiences forge some of first and the most robust brain circuits in a child’s brain that will later be merged with pictures and written words, laying the groundwork for complex and abstract thinking.
Making and Learning in Informal Science Education Kevin Crowley, Professor of Learning Sciences and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh & Director of the Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments
With the abundance of Making and DIY resources and products, and even the White House hosting its own Maker Faire, it is clear that Making has shifted from a fringe movement to the mainstream. ISE institutions always played a vital role in bringing these experiences to the public.
Designing Your Program Evaluation – Pre-Conference Workshop Cheryl Boyette and Brooke Miller
Complete a program evaluation design including; setting evaluation goals and objectives, determine what type of questions need to be answered, setting realistic timelines, budget considerations, data collection, analysis, and reporting.
Are You My Match?: Efficient and Effective Standards Research and PD Mandy Kirchgessner, Ed.D. – Insights El Paso Science Center We need to align our programs with standards, but this can be daunting. Together we’ll evaluate education objectives, pair standards with programs, and identify key topics that connect with schools. We’ll also share strategies to engage educators. Bring a laptop and program outlines.
Chaos to Conquest: Channeling Student Energy into Tangible Solutions

Bernard Smalls, Adrianne Kartachak – Keep Austin Beautiful

Learn how to design activities that lead students on a breadcrumb trail of ‘aha’ moments that culminate in solutions-based thinking and clear next steps for action. These activities will integrate innovative technologies that encourage curiosity and exploration in the natural world.
ISEA SciGirls Citizen Science and Go Green Training

SciGirls Trainers: Gina Higby – Women in Engineering Project, Jennifer Himsted –Boys and Girls Club, Austin

Get creative and explore best practices and standards-aligned SciGirls curriculum designed to engage girls in STEM. Send your students out into their world as citizen scientists. Discover the world of recycling and go green with a plastics activity!
Collective Impact: ISEA as a Statewide Force for Good Charlie Walter – Mayborn Museum, Baylor University An overview to the theory behind collective impact, a structured model of collaboration that addresses large scale issues. Together session participants will explore possible ideas for a large-scale ISEA collective impact project.
Community First Program Development Emily Weerts, Sarah Morris – Nucleus Learning Network How can informal science institutions reach wider audiences? Learn and practice a program design tool that keeps your community at the heart of development.
Empowering Educators Through Professional Learning & Reflecting on Practice Kristin Evans – Texas State Aquarium As educators, we strive to be aware of industry trends- from pedagogy to STEM content- and to function as efficient teams of practitioners. This interactive session will introduce professional learning strategies to help build better practice through reflection, discussion and team activities.
Engaging your Audience at Home and in School: Building a YouTube Channel Brooke Miller – Online Educator Many informal science centers have YouTube channels that they use to engage audiences outside of the museum. In this session, we will talk about how your institution can benefit from a YouTube channel, and the different ways you can go about creating and editing video content.
Growing Tomorrow’s Agents of Change Tracy Friday, Christina Middlebrook –Botanical Research Institute of Texas Work side-by-side with fellow educators as you explore interactive ways to engage PreK-12 students in environmental issues.   Walk away with innovative strategies to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders through student led exploration and solutions.
Home Depot Science Lynne Christopher – San Antonio Water System Conduct science lessons with supplies found at a home improvement store. Use spray foam insulation to make a watershed model and PVC pipe to create a problem solving activity. Join the San Antonio Water System in this energetic, hands-on workshop and put your home improvement skills to the test!
The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion to STEM in Texas and Beyond David Buggs, MBA – Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department The future success of STEM in a changing US demographic requires that students, parents, educators, and science professionals be fully engaged in the dialogue needed to attract new employees into science fields.   We must be vigilant in our efforts to attract students and teachers from every background in preparation for the wave of exploration to come.
Interdisciplinary Experiences with Growing Up WILD Kiki Corry – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department & Project WILD

Want to get connected to Project WILD? Contact Kiki Corry!

Early childhood education at its best provides a variety of experiences supporting any one concept. Growing Up WILD is a perfect example of an interdisciplinary approach to science concepts. Sample some activities and explore ways that your program can follow the Growing Up WILD model.
Number Zoo – MathHappens Lauren Siegel – Math Happens

Math Lesson Suggestion Worksheet
One of the challenges for math educators and students involves transference. That is applying mathematical thinking outside of the mathematics classroom.   In this session we’ll explore ways that a visit to a zoo can be related to and integrated with concepts in math.
Texas Aquatic Science and Informal Science Education: A Partnership Johnnie Smith – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department This session will introduce Informal Science Educators to Texas Aquatic Science and all of its curricular components; as well as the Texas Aquatic Science Certified Field Site designation and what it can mean to your site.
Volunteer Mastery Panel Karen Marks – (TPWD), Amanda Ross – (BCP), Daniel Burch – (HMNS), and Melanie Hewitt – (HZ) Do you depend on volunteers or wish you could?  Learn the variety of ways we work with folks to leverage our accomplishments and reach.  We’ll hear from staff who coordinate volunteers to work in the outdoors, as docents in museums and zoos, or who provide science data for research.
Wild Engagement Anita B. Frey, Melissa Wong – Houston Zoo At the Houston Zoo we aim to enhance student learning here at the Zoo and in the formal classroom. We will introduce you to our hands-on activities designed to complement lessons from the formal classroom. We invite you to experience a variety of Zoo programming that can enhance science lessons.

ISEA 2015 Annual Conference

Click Here for the 2015 PDF Conference Schedule!

Keynote Speaker: Gerald Lieberman, State Education and Environment Roundtable – Creating Bridges for Successful Environmental Programs for Tomorrow

Featured Speakers: Lynne Christopher and Greg Wukasch from San Antonio Water System – Building Tires in a Shoe Factory: What’s really coming off our assembly lines?

Special Presenter: Jamie Bell from the Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education – The Big Picture: Trends in Informal Science Education and Key Resources in Informal Science Education (handout)

It was a Dark and Stormy Grant Application: How to use fiction writing techniques to write better proposals Presented by Christina Soontornvat

ISEA Annual Conference 2014:
Anyplace, Anytime: Science!

Field of Dreams: If You Build It, Will They Come?
Jamie Bell, Project Director, CAISE

Better Sameness Is Not Innovation
Lynn Christopher & Greg Wukasch, San Antonio Water System

Preparing Informal Science Educators
Patricia Patrick, PhD, Texas Tech University

Rendezvous At The Reef
Jenn Idema & Dr. Patricia Patrick, Texas Tech University

Role Models Matter: Engaging Girls (and All Kids) in STEM
Tricia Berry, Texas Girls Collaborative Project UT Austin Women in Engineering Program

Tools of Engagement
Jessica Gordon, City of Austin Watershed Protection

ISEA Annual Conference 2013:
We Don’t Make Science, We Make Science Better

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It: Storytelling for Adult Learning
by Stephen Brueggerhoff of the Native Plant Society of Texas – Williamson County

Texas The State of Water
by Cappy Smith, Aquatic Resource Education Specialist at TPWD
and Teresa Moss, Executive Directorat Bob Jones Nature Center

We Don’t Make Science, We Evaluate It!
by John Warner, Urban District Forester
Texas A&M Forest Service

ISEA Annual Conference 2012:
An Oasis for Science Education


Keynote Resources from Martin Storksdieck

A Framework for K-12 Science Education

Highly Successful Schools or Programs for K-12 STEM Education

Learning Science in Informal Environments

And its practitioner volume, Surrounded by Science
Be on the lookout for the Deeper Learning Report on Assessing 21st Century Skills. In the meantime, checkout the workshop report that inspired the consensus study.

 The Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education
, where you can find research and evaluation results of ISE programs
, where you can find case studies, reviews, and forums related to exhibits

Conference Sessions

Lego Robotics for Elementary-Aged Kids
by Jose Perez of Informal Science Learning Associates

Paper Tower Engineering: A Hands-On Introduction to the Grand Challenges of Engineering in the 21st Century 
by Tricia Berry of the Texas Girls Collaborative Project

Wetlands for Water
John De Fillipo of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center

Internships: Effective Management and Mentorship
by Marcela Ramos of the Austin Children’s Museum

Engineering the Earth: Exploring Wind Energy
by Katelyn Wamsted & Ange Atkinson of Girlstart

Nature Videography to Rescue Science Education in a Drought
By Martin Hagne of the Valley Nature Center

Texas State Aquarium Aquavision Distance Learning
by Adriana Reza of the Texas State Aquarium

Camp Odyssey: Art & Science of Water through a Community
by Christy Youker & Rebekah of the Coleman Upper Colorado River Authority and San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts

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