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Saturday , September 22 2018
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Home | Tag Archives: miniCAST

Tag Archives: miniCAST

Op-Ed: miniCAST 2018: You Need to Go

Some local teachers are provided opportunities to travel out of town to attend education conferences that are all about the content area that they teach. There are conferences for pretty much any curricular area.

The large, out of town conferences do have their advantages: inspiring keynote speakers, vendors exhibiting the latest wares, and lots of workshop opportunities to learn from peers.

However, the cost of these conferences are often prohibitive. When you take into account lodging, meals, travel and the cost of the conference itself, it is not unusual for a school district or an individual to spend upwards of $2000-$3000 per teacher to attend a three or four day event.

Because of those costs, most educators are not able to attend these conferences and have to make due with local or district provided professional development opportunities.

That is why it is important to provide local educators with high quality professional development opportunities that can compete with the “big boy” out of town conferences. Even out here in the vast wastelands of far west Texas, good Professional Development is available for our educators.

For several years I have been associated with the team that organizes and produces miniCAST, a local education single day conference that is designed to mimic the look and feel of a large, out of town conference at a fraction of the cost.

miniCAST has all of the trappings of the large out of town conferences: Keynote speakers, exhibit floors, workshops, networking opportunities and more, all at a crazy low price that almost any school or district could afford to send teachers to.

This year’s miniCAST features a local hometown science hero as the keynote speaker: Dr. Thorne Lay.  You may not have heard of Dr. Lay,but the El Paso High School grad is THE preeminent seismologist in the United States and is a Fellow of the National Science Foundation, the highest honor awarded to American scientists, just shy of a Nobel Prize.

He will be speaking on how Hollywood just does not understand geology with his talk “Geology of the Movies.” In the past we have had keynote speakers that ranged from National Geographic explorers, to Hollywood stuntmen, to Charles Darwin, resurrected from the dead!

Along with Dr. Lay, there will be over 50 workshops, including the coveted “6 Hour GT” update training that so many districts struggle to get teachers to take. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math are all covered at miniCAST.

Attendees can also attend the Friday evening pre-conference event at UTEP’s Centennial Museum. Along with free food and drinks, attendees can watch UTEP professors battle each other in a lightening lecture series, where 10 of UTEP’s top researchers have to present, in the language of non-researchers, in five minutes an with 20 Powerpoint slides or less, their work. The audience will vote on the best presentation.

For many years, miniCAST has been held at a local middle school, but this year, it will be held at UTEP’s Student Union and the Tomas Rivera Conference Center, and will with the UTEP Department of Geology’s Earth Science Week celebrations. Workshops, keynotes, vendors, networking opportunities, and more are all a part of miniCAST. And did I mention that every participant gets a free one year membership in TCEA and STAT, the Science Teachers Association of Texas. That is an $80 value, just for showing up!

miniCAST is only $100 for a full day of professional development. It is held Saturday, October 20, and starts at 7:30 AM at the UTEP Student Union.

Registration is now open. Find out all about it here.

If you are a teacher, tell your fellow teachers about it.

If you are an education administrator, you need to send some of your teachers.

If you are an education supporter, like a PTA president, why not sponsor a few of your teachers?

If you are a local “supporter of education” business, why not put your money where your mouth is and sponsor a bunch of teachers? Send 10 teachers and be out a total of $1000. Chump change! Come on, show us that you REALLY support our teachers!

miniCAST, and other conferences like it only exist because of a group of dedicated volunteers and the support of the local education community. We all win, even if we are not educators, by helping these events succeed.

***

Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

Video+Story: miniCAST draws Hundreds of Educators for One-Day STEAM Conference

More than 400 educators spent their Saturday at Brown Middle School collaborating and improving their science and technology skills to bring back to their classrooms.

The annual miniCAST Conference — billed as the region’s premier science and technology education conference — featured more than 100 presentations on Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM).

unnamed (23)Another 30 vendors set up in the cafeteria offering educational science tools and products. Non-profits organizations lined the hallway to offer teachers field trip ideas for their students including the El Paso Zoo, TecH20 Learning Center, Texas Parks and Wildlife.

“The great thing about miniCAST is that teachers can receive six hours of GT credit and CPE hours,” said Lora Holt, president of STEAM Region 19. “But most importantly, teachers get a chance to connect with area non-profits and UTEP professors that support STEAM and other professionals who specialize in the field.”

Keynote speaker Brian “Fox” Ellis made history, science, language arts and fine arts collide with his presentation “The Wisdom of the Past Builds STEAM for the Future.” He is an internationally renowned storyteller, author and naturalist.

“My goal is to inspire folks to awaken to a deeper understanding of who they are within their relationship to human history and the naturalunnamed (25) world around them,” he said. “I hope to evoke the storyteller within you.”

Presentations at the conference included: Time Travel in the Classroom, Encouraging a Path to STEM, Science Inquiry through Storytelling, Partnering with Nature in the Classroom, Keeping it Clean with STEM and Alien Autopsy: Fake Bodies, Real Science.

Milam Elementary science teacher Angela Campana led the session Tinkering through STEM. While not presenting, she visited vendor booths and sat in on presentations honing her skills and looking for ideas to bring back to her students.

“MiniCAST is a wonderful opportunity for teachers to get different ideas from other educators around the area and learn some useful things they can do every day around their classroom,” Campana said. “I come every year to get fresh ideas for the new school year.”

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