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2022 Chicago National Conference - Sessions




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Thursday, July 21
8:20 AM - 9:20 AM
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Supporting Civically Engaged Argument Writing in Science and Technology Classrooms

McCormick Place - W178b

Participants will use a graphic organizer to record their thinking as I describe a unit I taught in which students in grades 9-12 explored issues related to artificial intelligence. Students crafted op-Eds advocating for what we should do in our community about emerging technologies like driverless cars and facial recognition. As I describe the unit, I will highlight how I (1) kicked off the unit with a phenomenon that raised questions about convenience, safety, security, equity, and justice; (2) layered on texts and encouraged students to grapple with multiple perspectives on AI-related issues; (3) used routines and mentor texts to support students in crafting claims and connecting evidence to their claims; and (4) engaged students in processes of revision. Then, participants will work in self-selected groups to explore science/technology/society text sets on topics like lab grown meat and space debris. As they explore the text set, they will engage with a classroom routine to develop a compelling, debatable, defensible, and nuanced claim. Participants will share what they discovered as they explored the text set and wrote claims in their group and will reflect on how these text sets and routines might become part of their classroom practice.

Takeaways: Participants will learn about freely available text sets and classroom routines developed by teachers for supporting civically engaged argument writing about science and technology issues in society.


John Smith (Chester A Arthur School: Philadelphia, PA)

Presenter Materials for this Session:
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Guided Session Notes and Resources

Thursday, July 21
9:40 AM - 10:40 AM
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Half-Earth Project Inclusive Mapping Design Challenge and Hummingbird Guided Inquiry

McCormick Place - W196a

The Half-Earth Project team-based Mapping Design Challenge engages students in authentic teamwork to use digital mapping to design their own biodiversity conservation choices.

Takeaways: Digital mapping motivated by exploring charismatic species draws diverse students into the multidisciplinary science of conservation decision-making where species, human impacts, and stakeholders have to be considered.


Dennis Liu (E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation: Durham, NC)

Thursday, July 21
2:20 PM - 3:20 PM
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Installation Science Exhibits as Assessment Options

McCormick Place - W187c

To help develop more scientifically curious and literate students, we use scientific literature or documentaries to engage students in developing the NGSS science practices. Students find an interesting topic, generate a question, collect and analyze data and then develop a Science Installation that communicates their learning to the greater community. Our most recent class project had students study how to grow food in a simulated Mars environment with the conditions controlled by student programmed raspberry pis. High school students organized 6th graders to do hands on data collection. They created a 10x12 foot exhibit that looked like a Martian landscape and highlighted the equipment they used with the plants still growing. The display included QR codes to communicate data and research using student-created videos, infographics, and data tables. Other installations include a monochromatic yellow room where everything looks grey and allowed observers to learn about the properties of light and the ways light energy is used in photosynthesis, the way it can be used to promote electrons, and the way it produces color. Other exhibits include sound waves and a history or music and musical instruments, the chemistry of color, and an environmental study of our use of carbon.

Takeaways: Participants will learn how to guide students in the reading of scientific literature or the watching of documentaries in order to generate an authentic question and project. (How can we develop the capacity to farm on Mars? How does yellow monochromatic light produce the absence of color (an episode of Abstract, What can we learn about pollen structure from 3D printed files from Bayer’s agricultural division?) Participants will review a process to take the question and generate an authentic study that transcends a single class, grade, or discipline. (Students in 11th grade worked with students in 6th grade to test growing plants under controlled conditions that simulated Mars. Students in art and physics classes explored the properties of light and created a light-based art exhibit with science lessons on QR codes) Participants will explore a template for guiding students through the creation of an installation/exhibit that creatively shows the question, their experiment, their analysis, and potential solutions or conclusions in a creative and community-informing way. The exhibit is similar to an art installation with QR codes and experiment/study artifacts presented in a museum like scenario.


Elizabeth Helfant (Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School: Saint Louis, MO)

Friday, July 22
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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STEM + Empathy in Use in the Design of an Improved Bionic Arm

McCormick Place - W185d

Empathic engineering design can help develop students’ cultural competence as well as inform the design of more useful innovations for people with limb differences.

Takeaways: School-based activities that are oriented toward improving community members’ lives can simultaneously support the development of students’ cultural competence and integrated STEM literacy.


Susan Meabh Kelly (University of Connecticut: Storrs Mansfield, CT), Brittany Klimowicz (NYC iSchool: New York, NY)

Presenter Materials for this Session:
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Session slides with links to all resources and contact information

Saturday, July 23
10:40 AM - 11:40 AM
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How to create a simple bioinformatics activity that connects to your current science curricula.

McCormick Place - W193b

Advances in biotechnology, particularly DNA sequencing, has led to a surge in genetic data and large online databases. Interpreting these data, using the interdisciplinary field of bioinformatics, is in high demand because genome sequencing is becoming increasingly cheaper and faster. In science classrooms, there are many opportunities to incorporate bioinformatics, but this can be a daunting task for teachers who do not know where to begin. This hands-on activity starts by introducing participants to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website. Presenters will provide a brief overview of the database to guide participants on: 1) how to use the search functions of the database, 2) interpret information on sequence pages, and 3) how to download DNA, RNA or amino acid sequences. Following the guided tour, small groups will be provided discussion questions to discover potential areas within their curricula that could be reinforced or enhanced with a brief bioinformatics activity. Participants will be provided worksheets to help document relevant sequence information (accession numbers) for the biological phenomenon or topic that inspired the activity. The participants will leave with a basic understanding of sequence capture from NCBI and a rudimentary activity to expose students to sequence data analysis.

Takeaways: An understanding of the genetic code and basic internet browsing skills are all that are needed to explore bioinformatics and use them in the classroom.


Zack Bateson (National Agricultural Genotyping Center: Fargo, ND), Jane Hunt (Education Projects, LLC: Columbus, OH)

Presenter Materials for this Session:
(Please login with your NSTA account to view the materials)

How to Create a Simple Bioinformatics Activity - NSTA Chicago 22.pdf
Presentation Slides for the Workshop Session on Creating a Simple Bioinformatics Acitivity
Bringing bioinformatics into the science classroom.pdf
Electronic version of the worksheet used during the Workshop Session