Awesome Exhibitors at GSTA 2017

Image via screenshot from Science Bits YouTube video “Let’s Learn Science.”

This year’s GSTA conference hosted over 60 exhibitors, which included vendors, institutions, universities, and organizations. I’d like to highlight a few that I found to be exceptional.

1. I’ll begin with Science Bits. This company is made up of educators, and other professionals from all over the world who work as part of the International Science Teaching Foundation. Their goal is to support the 5E teaching model with an extensive digital library of multimedia lessons that include graphics, videos, simulations, text, and other interactive components that move from phenomena to investigation and problem solving. The simulations allow students to manipulate variables and observe the results of difficult to replicate experiments and scenarios. A prime example is how populations in an ecosystem change over extended periods of time. I’ve worked with ExploreLearning Gizmos (who were also present at the conference and definitely worth checking out), and have seen the positive impact on students’ conceptual understanding of the core content after interacting with the simulations. The Science Bits simulations are very similar. I really like how everything is together in one package that’s easy to navigate and is aligned with the NGSS. I have to admit that I am VERY impressed with this product.

2. Amplify is another digitally based company that offers educational products such as digital texts and assessments, and interactive apps. What drew me to their booth was the Seeds of Science, Roots of Reading logo. It’s an elementary curriculum comprised of student books that cover specific concepts in context, and are written to address students’ interests while developing their vocabulary and comprehension. There are also teacher blackline master books that contain anticipatory guides, pages for investigation journaling, and comprehension questions (both guiding and formative). I’ve used this serious in the past with tremendous success. Now that The Lawrence Hall of Science, who publish the Seeds to Science, Roots to Reading books, has partnered with Amplify, the entire series is available digitally. This merger has led to a program that walks teachers through an entire lesson from a phenomenon that corresponds with a real world problem to content knowledge and the engineering design process required to solve the problem. It then ends with a combination of traditional core content assessments and a culminating task that challenges students to solve a similar problem. It’s all there.

As a side note, you do not have to purchase the entire program. Each unit can be purchased individually and is sold per teacher.

3. While we’re on the topic of technology, I’d like to tell you about PASCO Scientific. This company manufactures lab equipment, including technology that can wirelessly log data and “hands-on probeware.” The thing that caught my attention was their Smart Cart, which uses built in sensors and bluetooth technology to send acceleration, velocity, position, and force measurements to your electronic device. Their software is compatible with Windows, Macs, Chromebooks, tablets, and smart phones. Although a lot of their products are more appropriate for higher levels of education, some of the products, such as the Smart Cart can be used at the elementary level as well. I have my students conduct similar experiments with regular carts, stop watches, and measuring tape, but a lot of the data is estimated. That is contrary to my teaching them that conducting a quantitative science experiment requires precise measurements. We make due with what we have, but I can tell you that next year, we’ll have a Smart Cart!

There is so much more to PASCO Scientific than just Smart Carts, so be sure to check out what else they offer on their products page.

4. I don’t want this to become too lengthy, so I’ll cut it short. Before I go, though, I want to share one more product: Code & Go Robot Mouse. I’ve seen this mouse through multiple retailers, but never thought too much about it, until yesterday. While perusing the ETA hand2mind exhibit, I came across the set up. I didn’t understand how the robot mouse was supposed to teach coding/programming skills until I played with it. Afterward, it became clear to me that Code & Go Robot Mouse is a good introduction of the concept of programming for very young children. You’ll see what I mean in the following instructional video clip.

By the way, Girl Scout Daisy leaders, there’s a coding badge now! Hint! Hint!

Well, I hope you were able to get something useful from this list. Please feel free to comment, question, and share more with me below. Thanks!

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