Climate Catalysts: Reflections on NSTA Conference 2024

Climate Catalysts: Reflections on NSTA Conference 2024

You Belong Here.

exactly what it felt like attending my first ever National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) conference, their theme this year! As I sit here, reflecting on the whirlwind of experiences I’ve had so far, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with excitement, inspiration, and a dash of exhaustion. From the awe inspiring sessions to the endless networking opportunities, NSTA has truly been a teacher’s dreamland.

Let’s start with the absolute highlight of my conference experience: Mark Rober. If you haven’t heard of him, you’re missing out! Mark’s Keynote was nothing short of amazing. We laughed, we cried, and most importantly, we learned. The line to see him resembled something you’d find at Disney World, but let me tell you, it was worth every minute of the wait.

The look on his face when I told him I have 5 kids who were his biggest fans is something I won’t soon forget!

Mark Rober x TAG

Mark Rober x TAG

The Big Reveal

If you ask your students if they know Mark, chances are they are going to say yes. His YouTube channel is legendary for sneaking the vegetables in with the science. He has this amazing ability to grab your attention and keep you hooked. In addition to his channel, he has a facility and STEM subscription box called Crunch Labs. It makes science more accessible and fun and even gives members an opportunity to visit his Crunch Lab in real life. 

You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with education? Teaching and learning? Well, in short, everything. Mark has found a way to engage our learners and make learning fun. In doing so, he tapped into a passion he always knew was there. And that’s why he created Class Crunch Labs.  This Beta program features awe-inspiring video demonstrations of science phenomena, and is hosted by Mark Rober, Emily Calandrelli & Maynard Okereke. In each episode they offer:

  • Hands-on investigations for the classroom
  • Video field trips to explore science careers
  • Comprehensive teacher and student resources (full OER)
  • Surprise celebrity guests…

In 2020 Mark Rober and MrBeast Teamed Up and set a goal to Plant 20 Million Trees, and guess what, the hit it! Cheek out their project at or let Mark tell you all about it himself.

112 Climate Sessions?!

Now, onto what captured my heart at the conference – climate education. With a whopping 112 climate sessions to choose from, NSTA left no stone unturned in addressing one of the most pressing issues of our time. From Solutionary Projects to Building with Hope to Climate Sciences in Action, the breadth and depth of topics covered were simply mind-blowing.

Among the plethora of resources and sessions, a few stood out to me the most. 

  • But perhaps the most resonant message I received was this: All Teachers Are Climate Teachers. This powerful mantra, echoed through resources like Climate Time and the Climate Science Planning Tools, served as a poignant reminder of our collective responsibility to educate and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.
  • One session that particularly piqued my interest was on engaging students through inquiry to action projects. The examples shared – from videos on food waste to discussions on iceberg analogies – were both enlightening and practical, offering tangible ways to integrate climate education into existing curricula.
  • But the learning didn’t stop there. “Life on a Sustainable Planet: Sensemaking in Elementary Climate Science Lesson Plans” offered invaluable insights into teaching climate change effectively, highlighting the urgent need for professional development in this crucial area. Armed with tools like the Sense Making Tool from NSTA, educators left empowered to tackle climate education head-on, equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to shape a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come.

Room For Improvement?

While the NSTA conference was undeniably a hub of inspiration and learning, there are always opportunities for growth. I had some ideas that could help make it even better for the future:

  • One area where the conference could enhance the experience for attendees is by organizing affinity group meetups specifically for climate educators. With many climate sessions overlapping, it was challenging to attend all the ones I wanted to, but a dedicated meetup would provide a space for like-minded educators to connect and network, regardless of scheduling conflicts.
  • Additionally, it would be fantastic for vendors to sponsor coffee and water stations at the entrance of the conference, ensuring attendees stay energized and hydrated throughout the day. 
  • Furthermore, incorporating water bottle filling stations in each room would promote sustainability and reduce single-use plastic waste. 
  • Finally, to further the conference’s commitment to sustainability, avoiding printing the year on signage would enable reuse in future years, minimizing environmental impact. 

These small changes could make a big difference in enhancing the overall conference experience and aligning with the values of educators committed to environmental stewardship.

Listening to Teachers

As I exited the conference center, my attention was drawn to the impressive sight of large interactive boards scattered around the premises. Each board bore a thought-provoking prompt atop, enticing passersby to engage. Among them, one in particular captured my interest: “What’s the number one challenge facing science education?” It was a question that resonated deeply, reflecting the collective concerns of educators striving to enhance science learning experiences. Without hesitation, teachers eagerly grabbed markers, sharing their insights and concerns. Among the myriad responses, three common themes emerged: time, accessibility, and curriculum. These challenges, though daunting, are not insurmountable. In light of this, I’d like to highlight some resources from TAG (Take Action Global), that are tailored to address these pressing issues. By leveraging these resources, educators can navigate the complexities of time constraints, enhance accessibility for all learners, and enrich science curriculum to foster deeper engagement and understanding.

Time: At Take Action Global, we understand that every educational journey is unique, which is why we offer a wide range of programming options tailored to fit your specific needs. Whether you’re looking for a one-day event or a year-long engagement, we have something for everyone. Our Climate Action Day is a full-day, free event designed to immerse teachers and students in the vital conversation about our responsibility to the planet. It’s an opportunity to witness firsthand the inspiring efforts already underway to mitigate our negative impact on the Earth. But that’s just the beginning. We offer a diverse array of programs, ranging from the immersive Coding for Climate spanning three weeks to the creative LEGO Build The Change program lasting four weeks, and our Climate Action Project running six weeks. Whatever your educational goals may be, we have the resources and expertise to support you every step of the way. Join us in taking meaningful action towards a sustainable future for all.

Accessibility: At Take Action Global, inclusivity is at the core of everything we do. We are committed to ensuring that all our learning opportunities are accessible to everyone. That’s why we collaborate closely with experts to guarantee that our content is not only inclusive but also tailored to diverse needs. With materials available in over a dozen different languages, we strive to eliminate language barriers and reach learners worldwide. 

Curriculum: Moreover, we understand the importance of empowering educators to effectively utilize our resources. That’s why our Climate Action Schools Program offers comprehensive professional development to support educators in implementing our materials with confidence and proficiency. Our approach emphasizes the creation of authentic interdisciplinary lessons that spark inquiry and inspire action, fostering a dynamic learning environment where every voice is valued and heard.

See You In New Orleans!

As the conference draws to a close, I find myself filled with a renewed sense of purpose. NSTA has equipped me with the knowledge, resources, and connections needed to make a real difference in the lives of my students and the future of our planet. If you are having some serious FOMO, you won’t have to wait another year to attend NSTA. Their fall conference is happening November 6-9th in New Orleans. 

So here’s to laughter, tears, and endless learning – thank you, NSTA, for an unforgettable experience. And to my fellow educators, let’s go forth and ignite change, one classroom at a time. Together, we can make a world of difference.

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