Sunday, November 17, 2013

ATASC 2013

I had an amazing time this weekend at the ATA Science Council Conference and am humbled by the great minds that were brought together to share and inspire!  The ATASC did a wonderful job, as usual, bringing together a wide variety of presenters keynotes with excellent hospitality.  I am tempted to join the council.  I was able to meet so many new people who all had such unique and amazing ideas and ways of teaching science.  I feel both inadequate and inspired all at the same time.  

I also introduced myself to the ATASC Science Teacher of the Year Award winner, Annie, who is one of the few other French immersion junior high science teachers I have ever met.  Naturally I exchanged information with her and will be in touch soon.  I am looking forward to picking her great big science brain!  Felicitations Annie!

I was able to present two session with my friend, Morgan Laird, about teaching with technology and quick science demo's and how we keep them organized on Pinterest.  It was wonderful to have someone so like-minded to work with and explore what we are able to share with other teachers.   See our session notes and links HERE.  See the notes and hand outs of ALL of the sessions HERE.

Morgan and I ready to rock our presentations!
The rest of the weekend was spent being inspired by other educators and organizations out there looking to share with and support teachers.  There are so many energy and petrochemical companies with free resources that not only share he science of oil but also how to conserve and protect the environment.  My favourite of all is Inside Education, the organization that brought Morgan and I together for the love of science!  See their website for FREE teacher PD!!

The highlight of the entire weekend was being able to meet Canadian Astronaut, Jeremy Hansen as well as Magalie, his lovely co-worker from the Canadian Space Agency.  I introduced myself to Jeremy and Magalie and they both indulged my questions and we had a lovely conversation about space, science, geology, parenting, and more.  I found out Jeremy lived in Cold Lake when had just started teaching there.  I wonder if it was his F-18 roaring over my class making the windows shake?  He was very kind and spoke with an innate yet humble intelligence.  He was gracious enough to sign a picture I brought and pose for a picture that I will treasure in my space-geek collection.

The autograph reads "To Amanda, Thanks for your contribution to our students!  Jeremy Hansen"
Later on Jeremy gave his keynote address that made us all want to become astronauts!  Well maybe if it weren't for the exhaustive training, arduous elimination process, and the immeasurable amount of education, patience and intelligence needed.  If we aren't up for that we were at least inspired to be the best we can be, reach for our goals, work hard to achieve them, and enjoy the ride in the mean time.  Maybe we will be the teachers that share our love for science and space and inspire the next generation of future Canadian astronauts!   Jeremy was very appreciative of teachers and acknowledged the importance of what we do, especially if we do it well and with caring and passion.  He spoke of a variety of resources for space and science education including the educational support the CSA has to offer, the Tomatosphere project, and the ever evolving National Film Board Space School that my school was lucky enough to participate in.
The CSA looks like the starship Enterprise!
Hadfield and the Candarm - Great Canadian contributions to space
He showed us some amazing pictures of the ISS, his training, new technologies and a variety of perspectives of our world.  He shared about working with Chris Hadfield and my favourite video of him in space, other than the ISS song and Space Oddity.  Jeremy was very witty and I think the CSA was testing how he deals with pressure by having a technical glitch with his presentation that deleted all of his video links.  He recovered with humour and great speed.  Well done.  
Trying out being weightless with other astronauts from around the world!
Jeremy flying over the Alberta Rockies.  Stunning.
Jeremy was part of Chris Hadfield's ground support.  Sounds like a great team to me!
My favourite Chris Hadfield science demo
This is by far one of the most stunning videos from space I've ever seen.  My kids keep asking me to play it for them over and over again.  My boy wants to be an astronaut now!

When explaining how they deal with the potential conflicts of living in space for so long and being confined together he said "Nobody wants to fly in space with a jerk." He continued to explain the extensive training and team building they do for years before they ever leave the ground.  He was able to go up to the Arctic and train with a geologist so he would be able to collect data and samples on the moon, an asteroid, or even Mars!  He also did a cave exploration with a team of astronauts from around the world and had to squeeze through some tiny spaces as well as collect scientific data.  All of this to prepare for the day when it will finally be his turn to go into space.  We will be cheering you on from Canada Jeremy!
Jeremy on Mars with his Mars Rovers ... or the Arctic with ATVs.
Jeremy's cave adventure
I have to indulge my ego and share something that was by far the most meaningful moment of the conference for me.  Jeremy was able to stay and enjoy the rest of the conference and a few sessions.  A total class act.  As I was leaving the final keynote speech to go home after an exhausting (and amazing) day he stopped me to talk.  He said that someone was singing my praises and saying that I was a passionate science teacher.  He shook my hand and thanked me for all of the hard work and all that I do.  I stood there blushing and dumbfounded but truly honoured.  I thanked him and in a blur made my way home.  I'm not sure if he will ever know just how much it meant to me to be acknowledged by someone of his calibre.  I plan to pay it forward and acknowledge all of the amazing and talented teachers, students, and people who are dedicated to their passions.  

Thank you Jeremy.  Merci

What an amazing week!  I'm going to buy a lottery ticket and if I win get on that flight with Lady Gaga into space!

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